Special Educational Needs (SEN) Legal Advice
All children and young people need the support of their parents, family and friends, but some children with special educational needs may require more support. It is important that their needs are recognised early on and their potential learning or developmental difficulties are identified from a young age.
Our solicitors are highly experienced in this area, offering expert Special Educational Needs (SEN) legal advice to parents, schools and other individuals and organisations. We can help you with everything from Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments, Statements of SEN and EHC plans to Court of Protection deputyships and Special Education Needs and Disability Tribunals (SENDIST).
We offer a sensitive but practical approach to dealing with these matters, ensuring the best possible outcome for children with special educational needs and those who care for them.
Speak to one of our Special Educational Needs solicitors now by calling 0800 158 4147 or use our dedicated Special Educational Needs contact form and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.
Our Special Educational Needs legal services
We offer comprehensive legal support and advice covering all of the key issues affecting families who have a child or young person with special educational needs.
We have helped many families over the years to secure the educational and therapeutic input that their child requires in relation to the following:
- Autistic spectrum disorder
- Asperger syndrome
- Speech and language difficulties
- Hearing and or visual impairment
- Emotional and behavioural difficulties
- Specific Learning difficulties – numeracy, literacy, dyspraxia and dyslexia
- Motor and physical difficulties
Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessments
Sometimes the additional support that children and/or young people require isn’t recognised or is not sufficient. If this is the case then you can ask your local authority (LA) to carry out a needs assessment.
Under the previous legislation this was known as a ‘statutory assessment’ while under the new Children and Families Act 2014 this is known as an Educational, Health and Care (EHC) Needs Assessment.
If the local authority considers that your child has Special Educational Needs, they will issue an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, detailing what provision for additional support your child needs. They will initially produce a draft EHC Plan that you will have at least 15 days to read and comment upon.
We can help you request an EHC assessment, review any resulting draft EHC plan and assist you in challenging the local authority if you disagree with their decision or the contents of the EHC plan produced.
Transferring a statement of SEN to an EHC plan
The Children and Families Act 2014 came into force on 1st September 2014 and this legislation introduced EHC Plans to replace Statements of Special Educational Needs. EHC Plans should be a single document that encompasses all Education, Health and Care needs of the child or young person and these plans can be in place, in theory, from birth to age 25.
By 1st April 2018 all Statements of Special Educational Needs will be replaced by EHC Plans. There is a strict timeline for the process of transferring a Statement of SEN to an EHC Plan. The transfer review process should take no longer than 20 weeks to complete.
We can support you through the entire process, making sure your child’s needs continue to be supported appropriately, including reviewing the new EHC plan and helping you with any amendments you feel are required.
Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunals (SENDIST)
If you wish to appeal against a decision made by your local authority with relation to an EHC Needs Assessment or EHC Plan, you will need to apply to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal, also known as a SEND Tribunal or SENDIST.
The Tribunal can dismiss an appeal, order the LA to carry out an EHC Needs Assessment, to make and maintain an EHC Plan or to maintain an EHC Plan with amendments. It can also order the LA to reconsider or correct a weakness in an EHC Plan.
Parents or young people are required to provide sufficient grounds of appeal setting out their case, and will need robust, comprehensive and up to date evidence to support their position.
It’s important to note that you can only appeal against Sections B (provision), F (need) and I (school/college placement). However, from March 2018 all parents/young people will be able to bring claims concerning not just B, F and I but C, D and F and G as well for two years as part of a national pilot scheme. It will enable non-binding recommendations to be made to the health and social elements – recommendations which if not followed could be enforced by way of judicial review by the parent/young person.
We can advise and support you every step of the way with SEND tribunals, including helping you to launch an appeal and build a strong case, as well as representing you in the tribunal to ensure a fair outcome for your child.
For more information about SEND Tribunals click here.
Before registering an appeal with SENDIST, parents or young people are required to consider mediation. The decision whether to use mediation rests with the young person in question, or their parents, but they will need a mediation certificate issued by a mediation adviser to show they have at least considered the option before they can take their appeal to a tribunal.
The only exceptions to this are where an appeal concerns:
- The school/placement named in the EHC Plan
- The type of school/placement named in the EHC Plan
- The fact that the EHC Plan does not name a school/placement
We can help you determine whether mediation is appropriate for you, ensure that the results of any mediation process you do enter into are in your/your child’s best interests and make sure the correct paperwork is in place if you do decide to proceed to a SEND Tribunal.
Court of Protection deputyship
If you are the parent or carer of a child with special educational needs and believe they will not have the capacity to manage their own affairs once they turn 18, you may need to apply for a Court of Protection deputyship to give you the power to manage their affairs for them.
We can help you apply for a Court of Protection deputyship and assist you with managing your child’s affairs, ensuring their needs continue to be met long term.
For more information about Court of Protection deputyship, click here.
Additional Educational Law services
We also offer legal advice with respect to the following issues:
- Disability Discrimination Claims
- School Admissions and Exclusions
- Advice regarding Social Care Funding and Adult Placements
Our expertise in Special Educational Needs legislation
Our Special Educational Needs solicitors have many years of experience dealing with a range of high profile and more everyday issues relating to Special Educational Needs. Two of our team have children with special educational needs, giving them a parent’s perspective on the issues involved alongside their professional expertise.
Our SEN team also work closely with our private client department, meaning we can offer a seamless service for issues such as applying to become a Court of Protection deputy and effectively discharging the duties that come with this responsibility.
We know that each child and family is unique, so our goal is to truly understand your requirements so we can provide a service tailored to your needs. By focusing on strong communication and exceptional service, we ensure that you have the support you need every step of the way to achieve the right outcome for your child.
Get in touch with our Special Educational Needs lawyers
For help with any aspect of Special Educational Needs legislation anywhere in the UK, please contact us today by calling 0800 158 4147 or use our dedicated Special Educational Needs contact form for a swift response.