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Special Educational Needs Law Solicitors in London
Any parent of a child with special education needs will inevitably face challenges from the outset through to the conclusion of their child’s education. This is something we fully understand at HCB.
It is the belief of our London special educational needs law solicitors that each and every child should enjoy the very best possible education experience from nursery through to university. Whilst in practice this can be a challenge due to budgetary cuts and complex procedures set down by London’s local authorities, it remains our goal and we are always prepared to do everything possible to achieve it.
What are Special Educational Needs?
The Children and Families Act 2014 was brought in to cover special educational needs law in England. It sets out what constitutes a disability and the legal test for defining whether special provision is necessary. If your child’s concentration levels, physical or cognitive ability, reading, writing and / or social skills are affected by a disability, then he or she will be entitled to SEN support and perhaps an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).
Any of the following disabilities would call for special educational provision to be made for a child:
- Down’s syndrome
- Dyslexia or dyspraxia
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Tourette’s syndrome
- Visual or hearing impairment
- Spina bifida
- Asperger’s syndrome
- Cerebral palsy
- Cystic fibrosis
- Muscular dystrophy
How can HCB Assist Parents with Special Educational Needs in London?
Our special educational needs lawyers in London are highly experienced in all aspects of this area of law and their work is solely focused on helping parents achieve what they wish for their children in an educational sense.
The services we provide to parents in London are extensive and include EHCP conversions and advice on Special Education Needs Code of Practice.
The challenges you face will of course vary, which is why our special educational needs lawyers fully tailor everything they do on an individual basis. There are however some common denominators where SEN issues are concerned, and we have used these to document a series of frequently asked questions which we hope you find helpful.
What can I do if I feel my child needs more support at school?
SEN support can be requested when children don’t appear to be making the progress they should or seem to be struggling to keep up with the pace at which other children of the same age are learning.
If you feel your child could do with more help you can ask the school to provide ‘SEN support’. Once you have requested this then your child’s teacher will work alongside the school’s Special Needs Coordinator (SENCO). The SENCO will be responsible for arranging the additional assistance – which could include one-on-one sessions, social skills exercises or group work - and will also monitor it. It will be down to the teachers to provide the education according to the plan and outside help may be brought in if it is deemed necessary.
Targets will be set and as a parent you will play a part in agreeing these. You are entitled to a progress update at least three times per year.
My child’s SEN support doesn’t seem to be working, what can I do?
If your child’s needs are complex or severe, or the SEN support does not appear to be meeting targets, then your next course of action is to request an assessment from your Local Authority in London. This assessment will determine whether an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) will be required.
EHCPs are designed to provide assistance to children and young people up to age 25 who cannot achieve what they need through mainstream SEN support.
What should I expect from a Local Authority assessment?
Local Authorities will normally ask parents to put their views forward as to their child’s educational needs. They will also request a doctor’s assessment and reports from the child’s school.
It can take up to 16 weeks for a Local Authority in London to respond with a decision as to whether a child is entitled to an EHCP. If it is decided they are, then the Local Authority will draft one and provide it for your review.
You must respond with comments within 15 days. The Final Plan is required to be provided by the Local Authority within 20 weeks of the date of the assessment.
What can I do if I think my child’s EHCP is incorrect?
It is possible to challenge a Local Authority in London if you feel your child’s EHCP is incorrect.
You may for example disagree with the London school that has been recommended, or it could be that the way your child’s special educational needs have been described are inaccurate in your opinion. If this is the case then you must respond within 15 days with your representations. This could involve you requesting a meeting with the Local Authority.
Any amendments you ask for must be considered by the Local Authority, although they are not required to bring them into the final EHCP. If you find you are not in agreement with the final document then your next step is to appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST). This you have to do within two months.
My child’s EHCP is not working in practice, what can I do?
It is unfortunately the case that quite a large number of EHCPs do not provide sufficient clarity for a child’s teachers to act upon them effectively. If you find yourself in this situation then your first port of call should be your child’s teacher and Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator. You will have the opportunity to discuss how things are going at an Annual Review, but if that is far off and you are concerned then you should request an early review.
In order to prepare for this review, you will need to write a detailed written report which should include supporting evidence. This could come in the form of a doctor’s report or a statement from a therapist for example.
If when it comes to the Annual Review the EHCP remains unchanged then you should look to make an appeal to SENDIST.
What can I do if the Local Authority refuses to assess my child?
It is possible to challenge the decision of a Local Authority to refuse an EHCP. Your London Local Authority will give you details about how to do this. It is duty bound to arrange independent disagreement resolution and mediation, and you can find useful links to help you discover more about these services at the foot of this guide or within the pages of your Local Authority website.
I have been invited to a Transition Review Meeting. What is this?
When the law on special educational needs in England changed, the SEN Statement was replaced with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). SEN Statements are therefore gradually being converted to EHCPs and this transition is due for completion by 1 April 2018.
If your child is still being cared for under a SEN Statement then this is the reason you have been invited to a Transition Review Meeting. It is recommended that you are represented at this meeting by a specialist London education law solicitor. This will ensure that the correct procedure is being followed and that nothing you feel is a necessary part of your child’s support is affected.
The meeting will result in an EHC assessment followed by providing you with a copy of the Plan. You are able to appeal this following the procedure set out above should you have any concerns.
What Assistance is Offered for London Based 16+ Students with Special Educational Needs?
Transitioning from school to 16+ education often presents numerous challenges both for the young person and their parents. It is a time when a new set of authorities and agencies get involved and the staging can often be confusing, for example at 16 there is a transition from children’s health care to adult health care, but the transition from children’s to adults’ social care does not occur until the age of 18.
If your child has indicated a college or university they wish to attend then that establishment, on offering them a place. is required to use its best efforts to deliver the required SEN support. This may be sourced from outside the establishment and has to be regularly reviewed with ongoing monitoring of progress and reports back to you.
Year 9 is the right time to start considering special educational provision in higher education. Annual reviews will be in place from this point. It is recommended that the review in Year 11 is conducted as early on in the academic year as possible so that there is ample planning time available. The transition plan should always consider the aims and wishes of the young person and incorporate the required support. According to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice in England, transition planning should be ‘participative, holistic, supportive, evolving, inclusive and collaborative.’
The deadline by which all Local Authorities must issue a Final Amended Statement of Special Educational Needs or EHCP for children in their final year of primary or secondary education is 15th February. Regrettably a lot of Local Authorities do not stick to this deadline and this can lead to delays, especially when an appeal becomes necessary. It is therefore crucial to keep on top of everything and respond to all requests for information and responses within the given timeframes.
You will likely find it beneficial to engage the assistance of a post 16/19 special needs solicitor in London who will guide you through this important stage of your child’s education and work closely with you to make sure the transition plan and revised EHCP is suitable, especially bearing in mind these Plans remain in place until the age of 25.
Why use a Special Educational Needs Solicitor in London?
A London special educational needs solicitor will be able to offer you the benefit of their experience and expertise in making any required appeals against an inappropriate EHCP. They will also guide you through challenging any decisions against assessing your child; assist you at the Annual Review and take you step by step through an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
If you decide to relocate your child to another school in London, a special needs lawyer will also be able to help you through this process which involves reassessments and Local Authority liaison. It can be a complex process, so you will benefit from professional guidance, especially when that guidance is fully focused on achieving the very best outcome possible for your child.
Our London special educational needs solicitors know SEN legislation inside out and deal with it exclusively on a daily basis. They can take care of every aspect on your behalf, giving you a far improved chance of obtaining the outcome that is right for your child.
Special Education Needs Resources in London
The following links are intended to assist anyone looking for information on special educational needs and disability in London: