Special Educational Needs - More advice, information and support to be provided for parents of pupils


The Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, has made a commitment to ensure that parents of children with special educational needs (SEN) will receive access to "excellent services".

He was speaking in response to the recommendations set out in a report written by Brian Lamb, the Chairman of the Special Educational Consortium.

Currently it’s estimated that one in five children have some form of SEN – that’s over a million young people, many of whom are being well supported and making good progress.

But parents of children with SEN not enjoying the same levels of support in their education often have to battle to have their child’s special educational needs confirmed and acted upon.

Under the proposal are improvements to the system of providing legal aid for some Tribunal cases, as well increased rights to appeal to Tribunal if local authorities refuse to alter a statement following an annual review. In addition, the Lamb report called for a National SEN Helpline to provide expert guidance and information to parents.

We regard the provision of independent advice as vital to protect the needs of children. As a firm, we find that parents are often confused by the system or in some cases mislead into thinking that there is little they can do to improve their child’s education. We have therefore set up a helpline to provide initial free guidance to parents on what steps they can take.

According to Ed Balls, "Brian Lamb’s report tells us that parents must have access to the information they need, when they need it, in ways that are convenient to them."

"We are now working to ensure all parents have confidence in decision-making by giving them and their children a stronger voice at the heart of the SEN system."

Simpson Millar LLP is a leading UK law firm and specialises in all aspects of education law – in fact we are the only solicitors’ firm in the country to provide a national telephone advice on education law.

We have extensive experience of working with parents of children with complex and wide-ranging learning disabilities including autism, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, dyslexia, dyspraxia, hearing difficulties and visual impairment.

And because we are fully franchised by the Legal Services Commission in our specialist areas we can apply for Legal Aid for our clients where possible.

Whilst the Special Educational Needs Tribunal and Disability Tribunal (SEND) is designed to help parents of children with SEN to conduct their own tribunal hearing, the process can be complex, time-consuming and often very stressful.

We can provide a full package of expert support to guide you through the tribunal process as you strive to achieve the very best outcome for your child with special educational needs.

If you would like, we will also present your case on your behalf at the tribunal hearing – we are able to represent parents of children with SEN in any part of England or Wales.

Since 2005 we have obtained independent educational provision worth over £30million on behalf of over 500 children with special educational needs; we have applied our expertise to support parents of SEN children to successfully appeal at tribunals; and we continue to bring legal actions funded for the most part under legal aid to make sure that children get the provision set out in their statement of special needs.

In those circumstances you need a specialist firm of solicitors which can react quickly and effectively on your behalf to achieve the very best results for your child with special educational needs.

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