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Education Law

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Solicitors

Living with Special Educational Needs (SEN) means that you may face challenges every day before you even get to the school gates. SEN services in the UK are usually excellent and balanced to your needs, but if those services fail, it can leave you daunted and unsure of where to turn.

If you are (or you care for) a child or young person with SEN and you want to challenge a local authority decision, you need an experienced lawyer who understands your needs.  At Irwin Mitchell, our national team of dedicated SEN solicitors have helped clients make successful challenges where:

  • A school or local authority may not be recognising the child or young person’s needs
  • There’s difficulty obtaining a diagnosis
  • There’s been disability discrimination
  • There’s been issues accessing the appropriate support in schools or colleges
  • There are difficulties accessing a Home Education package where a child or young person can’t attend school
  • You’re having trouble accessing suitable school transport
  • You need to secure statutory funding for independent school placements (including residential schools and colleges, therapeutic provision and 1:1 support)
  • You need to obtain and challenge the contents of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans 
  • You need to transfer a Statement of Special Education Needs to an EHC Plan

We understand that these situations can be tough for everyone, compounding the difficulties of living with SEN but, as a firm, we are recognised as one of the leading authorities in this legal area. We are experts in the changes to SEN law introduced with the Children and Families Act 2014 and were involved in the first judicial review of local authority duties under the Act, which you can read about here

We have also, in partnership with deaf-blind charity Sense and Monckton Chambers barrister Steve Broach, created a host of factsheets and template letters to help you better understand the changes introduced by the act and to legally represent yourself if you do find yourself affected.

If you’d like to begin legal proceedings, or just want to find out a bit more about the process then don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can either call us on 0800 028 1943 or you can contact us online and we’ll get back to you.

National team of specialist solicitors
Leading experts in SEN law
Established track record of acting in complex Tribunal appeals
We provide support at mediation and annual reviews

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Special Educational Needs (SEN) - More Information
    • Where Can I Get More Information?
    • One of the requirements under the Children and Families Act (see below) is that all local authorities must provide an information, advice and support service that should offer impartial, confidential, accessible and free advice to families.

      The government has also set up a funded programme of Independent Supporters, led by the Council for Disabled Children. These independent supporters aim to provide help and guidance to families seeking support under the Children and Families Act. You can find out more about the independent supporters programme, including how to find your nearest Supporter, by following this link.

      In addition Irwin Mitchell, in partnership with national deaf-blind charity Sense and Monckton Chambers, have developed a series of factsheets and template letters to help you better understand the law around SEN issues and make basic legal representation yourself.

    • Can I Open A Case On Behalf Of Someone Else?
    • Yes. Many of our cases are carried out through the Court of Protection. The Court appoints deputies on behalf of people who have lost the capacity to make decisions themselves.

      In cases where there are no close friends or family to act on the client's behalf, a solicitor may be appointed as a deputy. Solicitors are also appointed if there are exceptionally complex decisions to be made.

      You may also act on behalf of your children, without having to go through the Court of Protection, provided they are under 18 years of age.

      If you would like to open a case on behalf of someone else, then either call us on 0800 028 1943 or fill in our contact form and we will call you back.

    • What Is Part 3 Of The Children And Families Act 2014? How Does This Apply To Me?
    • The Children and Families Act of 2014 has been described as the biggest reform to child welfare legislation in 30 years. It included wide changes to special educational needs and has affected all children and young people with special educational needs under the age of 25.

      Under Part 3 of the act, all existing statements of special educational needs for children in schools and learning difficulty assessments for young people in education and training have been replaced with a combined Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan).

    • What Are The Costs Involved? Can I Get Funding?
    • We offer clear and competitive pricing structures, including fixed fees and monthly instalment plans depending on the type of case and the legal support you require. We will always discuss your funding options at the outset of your case to ensure you're getting the deal that's best for you.

      For certain SEN issues public funding (legal aid) may be available. While we don't have a contract to provide legal aid for SEN tribunal matters, we can provide legal aid for some types of education cases, including judicial reviews. For more information on legal aid, have a look at our factsheet on legal aid

      If you would like to discuss funding options with one of our advisors the either call us on 0800 028 1943 or fill in our contact form and we will call you back.

    • Meet The Experts
    • With experts solicitors based in offices throughout the UK, we are recognised as a top tier firm for SEN law. As the leading experts in this area we have a solid track record of successful challenges in both first tier and upper tribunals.

      Meet the team.

Without Irwin Mitchell challenging the Local Authority we would still be awaiting an answer."

Client's father
Client quote

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Find Out About The Support My Child Or Young Person Is Entitled To?

Under rules set out in the Children and Families Act 2014, each local authority must now publish a 'Local Offer' on its website. This must set out, in one place, all the information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children in the area who have special educational needs (SEN) or are disabled, including those who do not have Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.

The SEN Code of Practice makes it clear that the purpose of the Local Offer is:

  1. To provide clear, comprehensive, accessible and up-to-date information about the available provision and how to access it.
  2. To make provision more responsive to local needs and aspirations by directly involving disabled children/young and those with SEN and their parents, alongside service providers in its development and review.

You should be able to access the contents of your Local Offer by simply carrying out an internet search for your local authority's name followed by 'local offer'. If you identify any gaps in the provision available for children and young people with particular needs, then you should communicate this to the local authority. The local authority is required to respond to comments on the Local Offer and should actively seek to plug any gaps in provision.

If you need to request information about the Local Offer from your Local Authority, we have prepared a Template Letter for you to download and use free of charge.

If this is unsuccessful and you want to take the matter further then our specialist SEN solicitors can help. Please call us on 0800 028 1943 or fill in our contact form and one of the team will call you back.

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What's The Process For Securing SEN Support?

Before you can access SEN support, you must first request an Educational, Health and Care (EHC) assessment from your local authority. The request must be made by:

  • If under 16 - the child's parent.
  • If aged 16-25 - the young person can make the request themselves (provided they sufficiently understand the request) or it can be made by their parents.

The process for requesting SEN support is as follows:

  1. Make a request in writing to your local authority. We have prepared a template letter for requesting EHC assessments which you can view and download here.
  2. The Local Authority must then seek information and advice on the child or young person in question's needs and the support needed to meet those needs and outcomes from a number of following sources which are all detailed in this factsheet.
  3. By week 6 all the advice should have been collated and sent to the Local Authority.
  4. By week 14 a draft EHC plan must have been produced and sent to you for review. If there is any delay in your receiving this plan, and you need to chase, then please feel free to use the template letter we have prepared for this purpose.
  5. Between weeks 14 and 16 you have 15 days to get in touch with your Local Authority about the content of your EHC plan. You can request a meeting to discuss the plan and you can tell the name and type of school or college you want named in the final plan. If you think there are amendments to be made, or if you'd like to request a school or placement, then feel free to use the template letter we have prepared for this.
  6. By week 16 the Local Authority must have contacted the school/college named in the EHC, who then have 15 days to respond.
  7. By week 20 the final plan must have been issued by the Local Authority and sent to both you and the governing body or principal of any school, college or other institution named in the EHC plan. If you need to chase up the outcome of a final plan, then please use this template letter we have prepared.
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Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?

As a national law firm, with 15 offices across the UK, we are ideally situated to help you with your legal issues no matter where you are in the country. We're regularly named in the UK's leading legal directories as a top tier firm for education/SEN law and our individual lawyers are leading experts in the field with a solid track record of successful challenges in both first tier and upper tribunals.

We are also experts in the changes to SEN law introduced under the Children and Families Act 2014, and were involved in the first judicial review of local authorities duties under the new law. In the Royal Courts of Justice, we successfully challenged a decision by Warwickshire County Council to cut access to short breaks for disabled children.

In addition, Polly Sweeney, the key contact for this service, is one of the country's foremost lawyers for disability rights. As well as having been involved with successful challenges at the highest level, she won the Bristol Solicitor of the Year accolade at the Bristol Law Society Awards in 2014. In 2015 she was shortlisted for Solicitor of the Year at the Law Society Excellence Awards, and was appointed to the Law Society's Mental Health and Disability Committee.

If you have an SEN Law issue you need help with, then please get in touch. You can wither call us on 0800 028 1943 or fill in our contact form and one of the team will call you back.

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