Here some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on SN.
Firs tier tribunals(8 Posts)
I have been wondering if the current political climate has been influencing recent judgements.
Spoke to someone who works for a Parent Partnership and was told they were surprised at some recent decisions. They had thought that in the last few cases the parents will win but despite evidence etc, the panel ruled against the parents.
I wonder if a charity might be persuaded to monitor the situation.
my son has cerebral palsy, complex partial epilepsy (uncontrolled) and learning difficulties. We are just waiting for result from first tier tribunal and having been through the whole process, I cannot put into words what a nightmare it is for parents. It is heavily stacked in favour of the LA's as the burden of proof (evidence) has to be provided by yourselves, nothing is said on oath and the LA blatantly told untruths which were not backed up by any evidence. Having spent 18 months preparing for this, I was not even allowed to have my say at the end but I managed to get 2 minutes worth as I protested (the panel were looking at the clock wanting to get home). We came away knowing that the case was lost as the whole proceedings seem to be run by the LA solicitor and was nothing but a nice cosy chat between them and the panel. We might as well have not turned up.
Am happy to show all paperwork to anyone doing research on this.
My advice to anyone is dont be put off : MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL PAPERWORK
1. All medical
2. all school behaviour and medical internal reports (dont depend on school diaries that are sent home.)
3 All copies of Statements of Needs
4. Copies of EP reports, OT etc
Get independent EP report (this can be paid through legal aid)
3. video your child (very important for epilepsy). Once you have all this
4. Speak to IPSEA - a fantastic free charity who will represent you for free if you have a case or/ and advise about legal aid if a solicitor is needed.
Dont be put off - I have not had a good experience but dont let them grind you down - if you have all the evidence you may well get a good panel who actually do the right thing for your child.
Mycar- good to hear from you. Good luck for tomorrow. Hope it goes ok. Let me know.
Agnes, what a shocker about the 2 LA peeps on the panel. You are dead right about reports and the cost of them too. It is prohibitive for most and it leaves us with a two tier SEN system which is unacceptable. The money wasted is just appalling.
We asked for our case to be dealt with on the papers as we had left the school and I'd been branded vexatious. The chair of the panel, some has-been local lawyer, made some nasty comments despite having not bothered to even read the papers properly and failing to rule at all on part 4 - oops must have forgot.
Seriously, this would not be acceptable in other Tribunals. Many cases are dealt with on the papers and the panel's reasoning is clear and non-personal.
Panels do whatever they like, in my case I had one that seemed to have a handle on things and the other 2 were sodding useless. I agree if schools were held more accountable and LAs were infront of a proper judge, I tell you what, half the tribunal applications would vanish
Ooooh Agnes, how did parents know the 2 panel members were employed by the LEA.
I tried to find out about mine, I found squat other than the Judge as she is still a working barrister.
Tribunals have to own up I think. Stop saying they are an expert inquisitorial panel and there is no need for parents to have legal advice or expert evidence; then insist the parent bring at their own expense (if they can afford it or not) specific witnesses and provide specific reports. eg a parent recently who had a private EP report rec residential went to tribunal. The Panel wanted the EP to come and explain reasoning for residential as report unclear. Parent could not afford to bring EP. Panel adjourned tribunal to get this evidence. Parent had to beg EP to do further report for free but could not fund EP to come. Parent lost as Tribunal said the evidence it had on residential placement was not sufficient and the Panel could not order a res placement without an expert advising it was necessary - yet the Tribunal procedure says it has the expertise to use its own expert judgments. It cannot be both either you need experts and they should be funded or you don't.
Also 2 out of 3 on Panel are usually LA employees. I know of one tribunal for ABA where 2 of the Panel were employed by the LA defending the appeal. Parents got there and given the opportunity to go away until a new panel could be found but up against it agreed to go ahead. they did win ABA (I think if they had lost it would have looked so biased) but not good practice to have employees of the same LA on the panel.
Having said that the lay person on our panel was excellent completely blew through the lies of autism outreach & I know someone who is a lay member and also brilliant. I would love to be on Panel. So I think the lay aspect of it works really well.
Because if they create the illusion that it is informal and accessible by parents, they don't have to justify their decision to refuse legal aid in the name of the child.
We have this joy on the horizon at the moment - as we all know everything to do with SEN is fraught with delays, confusion and obsticles and never straightforward.
How do we get this changed?
I remember us having this discussion some time ago [hows things, btw?] As soon as they are faced with someone such as yourself who understands how these things are put together and are challenged they appear to dig their heels in and make life even worse for you.
I feel like I stand no chance, but am going to give it my best shot. [AR tomorrow - change of Statement needs, change of named school, quantified hours, training of TA...... the list goes on! Still Home Ed-ing, but he needs a school.] Its a nightmare, and a travesty that it is so rife - those who haven't had any crap to deal wth seem to be very thin on the ground to not existing!
I'm doing a piece on FOIA and first tier tribunal judgments at the mo.
What strikes me is that the judgments are lucid, legal and objective. Even when appellants seem to be the taxing and vexatious sort, the Tribunal remains as objective as it can. They are also not afraid to tackle big questions concerning human rights and fair processes. They are generally chaired by QCs.
Why do we not get the same honour with SEN Tribunals regarding children? Why do our children have to be dealt with by panels who haven't got the foggiest about the law and who often produce judgments with personal comments about parents?
Making SEN Tribunals objective and more 'legal' would really stop alot of shenanigans. LAs wouldn't dare pull some of the crap they try in front of a proper court.
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