Our Education Law Solicitors and SEN Lawyers provide legal advice and representation on Special Educational Needs (SEN) matters to parents and professionals including other Solicitors and case managers.
We also have significant experience of social care work, so we’re very well-placed to advise when there is crossover between the care and education elements of a child’s provision, or when a residential placement may be required.
We’re happy to discuss and provide legal advice at any point which is most beneficial and helpful to you as a family.
For initial advice get in touch with our Education Law Solicitors.
Our Special Educational Needs Legal Advice Services include:
- Initial advice/diagnosis in respect of options to secure the appropriate provision for your child
- Assisting with requests for education, health and care assessments
- Advising on the timeframes and procedure required for education, health and care assessments (and enforcing those timetables and that procedure)
- Appealing decisions not to carry out education, health and care assessments to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal
- Dealing with disputes over the content of and provision contained within an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
- Disputes relating to provision specified in a plan not being made
- Appeals to obtain placements at independent special schools
- Appeals to obtain a placement at a residential school
- A failure to name a school within a plan
- Disputes over college and post-16/19 provision for young people
- Appeals to the Upper Tier Tribunal on points of law
- Appeals to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal for Wales (SENTW)
- Help with Home to School Transport
We offer a range of packages for Tribunal Appeals and related matters and can tailor our input to suit both your needs and your budget. Our Education Solicitors and Lawyers don’t tend to instruct Barristers to attend Tribunals, as we’re experts in these appeals and conduct the representation ourselves, which assists in managing costs.
Our Solicitors can also act if a provision specified in an Education, Health and Care plan isn’t being made, or there is a delay on the part of a Local Authority, as we have a Legal Aid contract in Education Law. For those parents who aren’t eligible for Legal Aid, we can do the initial work on a private fee paying basis, and if pre-action correspondence doesn’t work, look to obtain Legal Aid in the child’s name to bring Judicial Review proceedings to enforce their rights.
More Information on SEN
We understand that the law can be complicated when it comes to SEN. Ensuring that appropriate provision is in place for children isn’t an easy task, and parents with children with SEN have to navigate a difficult and often confusing system, at the same time as trying to meet their child’s day to day requirements.
Meanwhile, Local Authority budgets are being squeezed, they’re reluctant to agree to conduct Education, Health and Care Needs assessments, and produce appropriately resourced Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).
Pressures on schools also mean that children with special educational needs might not always be getting the support that they require. There’s sometimes a reluctance on their part to ‘rock the boat’ and advocate for children to get support they need, and they may also internalise the likely negative response from the Local Authority.
In addition, Local Authorities often put barriers in the way to obtain support, not all of which are lawful.
Although the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal try to be as “parent-friendly” as possible, the system is inevitably adversarial and focused on statutory tests and legal procedures.
This means that getting appropriate legal advice is essential. Our Education Law Solicitors are experienced in assisting parents secure provision for children with special educational needs. While some of our Solicitors have previous experience working for Local Authorities, which is very useful, we don’t represent Local Authorities. We represent parents and their children, as opposed to institutions.
For advice and help join our Education Matters Facebook community group here
SEN Legal Advice for Solicitors and Deputies
Our Education Lawyers work closely with other solicitors who deal with children and young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). We regularly help both Deputies and Medical Negligence Solicitors during litigation and in the time after settlement.
We can provide support through claims for education support costs and guarantee that they are accurately and appropriately represented in a litigation claim in order to maximise the recoverability of such costs from the other party. When an SEN dispute or other concerns arise, we’ll work with other industry professionals to make sure that your client has access to suitable support and advice.
We’re happy to discuss any case and offer advice and quotes when needed. We work on a competitive capped fee basis and this includes appeals and advocacy at tribunal.
SEN Legal Advice for Case Managers
Similarly, to when we work with other solicitors, we often work alongside Case Managers either during or after litigation. Common cases that we have worked through with case managers include:
- Securing funding for residential schools for children and young people with SEN and/or other needs, therapy or 1:1 support within school.
- Providing advice on disputes with schools, including school exclusions (whether formal or informal)
- Difficulties with schools preventing the necessary access to external therapists
- Disputes with social care and health services.
Disputes over school placement and the funding of placements
We’re more than happy to discuss any potential cases informally and provide advice and quotes where required.
Home to School Transport and the Law
The legal duty to provide transport varies on the age of the child or young person. There is specific legislation which sets out Local Authorities’ duties in relation to home to school transport for:
- Children of compulsory school age
In order to obtain a provision of home to school transport, you’ll need to complete an application form. The Local Authority will then consider your request. We recommend you submit as much evidence as possible with the application form, so they consider this when determining your application, which must be done in accordance with the legislation and their home to school transport policy.
What to Do if your Request is Refused?
If your request for home to school transport is refused, the Local Authority will give you the opportunity to complete an appeals process. However, if the matter is urgent, there might not be sufficient time to complete this process and you might want to consider pursuing an urgent Judicial Review instead.
We recommend you get legal advice on this before starting the appeal process because if the appeal is started, it’s likely you’ll need to complete it before we can consider if it would be appropriate to pursue a Judicial Review claim against the Local Authority.
What can I do if my appeal against the Local Authority’s decision and are unsuccessful?
Once you’ve completed the Local Authority’s appeal process, if you are unsuccessful you could consider either a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman or a Judicial Review. You cannot pursue both of these options and we therefore recommend you get legal advice from an Education Lawyer on which is appropriate for your case.
What can I do if the Local Authority has agreed to provide transport, but the transport they’re offering isn’t suitable?
You can follow the same process of appealing through the Local Authority’s appeal process. You should also consider whether at this stage it would be appropriate to pursue a Judicial Review.
As set out as above, if the Local Authority appeal process is unsuccessful, you should consider pursuing the matter further either through a Local Government Ombudsman complaint or a Judicial Review. Again, we recommend you get legal advice before deciding which of these options to take.
Can home to school transport be recorded in an Education, Health and Care Plan?
Whether or not transport provisions for children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) is included in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is decided on an individual basis by the Local Authority or by the First-tier Tribunal if you appeal against the contents of the EHCP.
They should both base their decision on whether to include it in an EHCP on whether or not it amounts to a special educational need and special educational provision. But in a lot of cases where a child has received home to school transport, the Local Authority or First-tier Tribunal won’t conclude that it is special educational provision. It's therefore likely to only be in exceptional cases in which the legal tests for this can be satisfied and it will be recorded in Sections B and F of an EHCP.
Should I ask for home to school transport to be included in my child’s EHCP?
If you believe that home to school transport is needed for your child due to their special educational needs, you should request that it's included in Sections B and F of their EHCP. I also recommend that you ask for this to be recorded as a special educational provision in Section F if Section B already includes a description of transport difficulties, as provision should be recorded to meet the need described.
For legal advice call our Education Solicitors
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Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.