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Education Law

Expert Education Law advice courtesy of the dedicated team of nationally respected specialist lawyers at HCB.

  • Comprehensive advice on all aspects of education law
  • Proven expertise in special educational needs and higher education law

Special Educational Needs help in Dorset

Our SEN Solicitors in Dorset have provided expert education law advice to secure special educational needs support for several children, young people and families. This can involve an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

What are Special Educational Needs in Dorset?

Special educational needs (SEN) affect how a person learns and accesses school. The needs can affect everything, for example:

  • ability to learn
  • reading
  • writing
  • concentration levels
  • social skills
  • hearing and/or visual impairment
  • behaviour
  • physical ability

If a child or young person has difficulties at school, beyond that of their peers, and need additional support, it is likely that they have special educational needs. 

If you are not sure whether your child or young person has special educational needs, you should seek specific legal advice.

Dorset SEN teams operate under their own policies, but also must comply with the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015. Whilst the law can be complicated, in our experience the policies can overly simplify the law and confuse quite complex rules. This can result in poor decision making. That is often why parents in Dorset seek special educational needs advice from us.

Dorset’s SEN policies and guidance can be found here:

https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/special-educational-needs

Whilst being aware of the policies can be useful, parents should always focus on the Special Educational needs Code of Practice, and underlying law, rather than Dorset’s SEN policies only. The SEN Code of Practice can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf

What is SEN Support in Dorset?

Each local authority is required to prepare a Local Offer, setting out the SEN Support that is available in the area. Dorset special educational needs Local Offer can be found here:

https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/childrens/sen-disability/support-services-for-children

Normally, school will identify that a child or young person has special educational needs. When this happens, the class teacher and Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), will plan additional support. This follows a cycle called “Assess, Plan, Do, Review”.

If the school does not identify a pupil with special educational needs, it may be necessary to seek an EHC needs assessment of their special educational needs from the local authority.

If the child or young person needs more support than the school can provide, an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) may be needed. The school should discuss with the child, young person and their parents / guardian requesting an EHC needs assessment. It is very important to note that there is no requirement to try to cycle of Assess, Plan, Do, Review before seeking an EHC needs assessment or an Education Health and Care Plan.

How can I get an EHCP in Dorset?

The guidance for securing an EHC needs assessment and EHCP in Dorset can be found here:

https://www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk/childrens/sen-disability/education/ehc-needs-assessment-plans

This can be a helpful guide to know how to qualify for an EHCP in Dorset. However, it is important to know that the local authority must comply with legal duties, as well as operating its own policies.

Before an EHCP can be issued, the local authority must make an EHC needs assessment.

At the conclusion of the EHC needs assessment, the local authority will decide whether an EHCP is necessary,

The term “necessary” has been the focus of much litigation. It means that the local authority must consider the subjective needs of the child or young person, the special educational provision that they need and whether it is reasonably likely that a mainstream school can deliver that support.

If the local authority refuses to make an EHCP, you can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

Where can I find SEN legal advice in Dorset?

Our special education needs solicitors provide advice in Dorset. To contact our specialist education lawyers, please call 02920 291 704

We have helped in the following ways:

  • securing an EHC needs assessment in Dorset
  • securing an EHCP in Dorset
  • Successful appeals to Tribunal against Dorset’s refusal to make an EHCP
  • Successful appeals to Tribunal against Dorset’s refusal to make an EHC needs assessment
  • Successfully appealing to Tribunal against Dorset for additional support
  • Successfully appealing to Tribunal against Dorset for specialist school places

 

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