How to Prepare for a Virtual SEND Tribunal Hearing
Making an appeal to the SEND Tribunal can be daunting to begin with. But having to attend the Hearing virtually may leave you feeling even more overwhelmed, especially if you’re not used to using tech in your everyday life.
And even if you regularly take part in video calls, the SEND Tribunal use their own video platform to carry out Hearings. But don’t worry. If you’re appeal is with the English Tribunal service, you’ll have a tech-check 30 minutes before the Hearing begins, if your appeal is with the Welsh Tribunal service this is likely to be a few days before.
This is to make sure that your microphone, video and connection are all running smoothly. During the tech-check you will be speaking to a Tribunal Clerk who will be able to answer any questions you have about the Hearing.
We understand if you still feel nervous about the Hearing, as we know how emotional and stressful it can be when discussing something as important as your child’s education.
Our Education Solicitors and SEND Lawyers have attended many Hearings virtually since the coronavirus pandemic began, so we can walk you through the process and will support you every step of making your appeal.
Here’s some advice about how you can make sure you’re ready and comfortable for your virtual Hearing.
Prepare Notes before the Hearing
Some people prefer to have handwritten notes about what they’re going to say, so they can have the video call screen up the entire time, whereas other prefer to do everything digitally. Do whichever works best for you, but it’s a good option to have a few prompts just so you don’t lose your train of thought at any point of the Hearing.
When making notes about what you want to say, it’s a good idea to think about why you’re at the Hearing and what you think the Tribunal needs to know.
Have your Tribunal Bundle Open
Having your Tribunal bundle open will mean that you can check any details and refer to any specific points when you need to.
Whether you have a digital or physical copy, you can make a note of anything that you feel you might want to look back or bring up at in the Hearing.
Be Prepared to Send Emails during the Hearing
It’s unlikely that the Tribunal will ask you to provide additional written evidence or documents throughout the Hearing, as written evidence is normally sent to the Tribunal well in advance.
But if you’re asked to send anything over you should attach it to an email with the subject line ‘URGENT VIDEO HEARING IN PROGRESS’ so they can easily find it in their inbox. Only use this subject line if you are sending during the Hearing, not before.
Hearings are often long and you might have to talk a lot throughout the entire process. Keeping water at hand will mean that you can stay hydrated and won’t have to wait for breaks to get a drink if you need it.
This may sound simple, but it’s a good way of making sure you’re comfortable through the video call.
Check your Internet Connection
You’ll have a tech-check before the Hearing begins, so all you need to do tech-wise is make sure you have internet connection.
If you’re using wireless connection, it’s a good idea to set up in a room where the connection is strong so you don’t have issues halfway through the Hearing. It may seem obvious but it’s important to make sure you have as little to stress about as possible.
Use your Breaks to Catch Up
Whether you’re representing yourself or you’re being represented by an Education Lawyer at the Hearing, you might want to use your breaks to speak to your representatives and witnesses.
Ask anyone helping you at the Hearing to be free during the breaks, so you can catch up if you need to. This saves you the time of having to chase people, as everyone will be prepared for you to call them.
It’s sometimes a good idea to have a short call scheduled, so you can hop in quickly to chat to your representatives how you would in an in person Hearing.
Our team of Education Law Solicitors have been working throughout the pandemic, so we know the difficulties that coronavirus might have bought on for your child with SEND. We can represent you at the Hearing, or just help you prepare evidence for your appeal.
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