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Help with Statutory Assessment

(19 Posts)
rumi102006 Fri 25-Mar-16 08:13:29

My son has a diagnosis forASD. We applied for statutory assessment lat year and 2 weeks back received the proposed statement. Needless to say it was rubbish and there were loads of problem with Part-2 and 3. We had a meeting with the LEA a week after that and told them about our concerns and where we felt amendments were needed. They never agreed to anything in the meeting but said they will need to discuss our proposed amendments with higher management.

We asked if we could get a clarification on what they were accepting and what they didn't agree with. They replied they were not interested in another meeting but we could go to Parent Partnership Service for further discussion / mediation. We did confirm (verbally and then by email) that we would like to take up that option. but we recived the "First Final" statement yesterday by post.

Can anyone please help me understand what this "FIRST FINAL" statement mean?
1. Does it leave any room for further discussion / negotiation?
2. Is there any point continuing discussion with PPS?
3. I understand there is a 8 week time limit to apply to the tribunal from the date of issue of final statement. Does the "FIRST FINAL" statement mean the tribunal clock has started ticking?

I can see why the LEA hurriedly issued the final statement as they were going to miss the deadline as the proposed statement was delivered 6 weeks late and they didn't want to miss the final statement dealine but it meant we were not given the 8 weeks of negotiation time.

Thanks in advance for any help / advice.

AugustaFinkNottle Fri 25-Mar-16 21:46:59

Are you in Wales? There aren't any statements in England.

No idea what "First final" means but if it's signed and dated and it was accompanied by a letter giving you notice of your right of appeal, then it is just a final statement and yes, the tribunal clock has started ticking.

You can probably still negotiate but you should really put your appeal in anyway so as not to waste time. The prospect of a tribunal appeal may make the LA more interested in negotiating with you anyway.

lottielou7 Fri 25-Mar-16 21:58:53

Which LA are you in? It's not correct to say that there are no statements in England. Some children are still on statements or having statements which are transitioning to EHC plan. My daughter has just had her EHC draft plan and it is very similar to statementing tbh as far as I can see. I'm trying to get a change in provision and it looks like we're headed for tribunal (again)

My parent partnership is very good but it's variable, dependent on where you live I hear. If you feel the LA will just do as they please, my advice would be to not negotiate any more and just appeal because meetings sap valuable energy. Some LAs just use meetings to spin things out or find out what your arguments are going to be. I agree that if you file appeal papers, at least the LA will know you mean business.

If they have named a placement then yes, you have the final statement and the clock is ticking.

MayhemandMadness Fri 25-Mar-16 22:00:27

First final will mean just that, its the first copy of the final statement/Ehcp. When it is reviewed, sometime within the next 12 months that will become the second final and so on.

2boysnamedR Fri 25-Mar-16 22:07:19

I'm suprised you was issued with a statement. I thought everywhere had gone over to EHCP. For new applicants, existing statements are still waiting to be converted.

Anyway if it's a statement your in luck, it's under the old law. No need to mediate. If it signed, dated and came with a cover letter with right of appeal - then just appeal ASAP. If your LA is serious about listening to you then then will have about four - six months to do so until your appeal date

rumi102006 Sat 26-Mar-16 01:34:20

Thanks all for your kind replies.

1. Yes, I am in Wales.
2. The letter does state that I have 2 months from the issue of this letter to appeal to SENTW. But also mentions that I can try and negotiate via PPS.

I have solid grounds for appeal. What would be your suggestion? Should I at least try using PPS so when it goes to the tribunal I can say that I tried to resolve the dispute from my end or would that be a waste of time? Could the fact that I did not use dispute resolution in any way go against me in the tribunal?

If I do appeal, do I have to inform the LEA or they will be informed by the tribunal?

If the LA does negoatiate (after I appeal) and we reach an agreement, will there be a fee to withdraw the appeal?

Lastly, any recommendation on good solicitors?

AugustaFinkNottle Sat 26-Mar-16 06:26:07

lottielou, there couldn't be a statutory assessment for a new statement in England.

AugustaFinkNottle Sat 26-Mar-16 06:29:00

I'd be inclined to go straight for an appeal but negotiate while it's going on. The tribunal sends the appeal documents to the LA. There isn't a fee either to enter an appeal or to withdraw it.

For a Wales tribunal, try Watkins solicitors in Bristol. They do quite a lot of appeals there.

lottielou7 Sat 26-Mar-16 08:27:34

Personally I think that meetings you may or may not have with the LA will usually have little bearing on the outcome, particularly if the LA have cherry picked from the advice available to them in suggesting a provision.

OP, you really need someone to look at all your paperwork to see how to make your case. The tribunal will make a decision based upon the available evidence that they have, ie reports etc. At the moment I'm using Chris Barnett from Match Solicitors. He's straight and thorough. Fiona Slomovic is supposed to be very good but I couldn't get hold of her. She would be a lot less expensive than a solicitor.

lottielou7 Sat 26-Mar-16 08:28:19

I agree with Augusta, if you appeal right away you won't be wasting any time.

2boysnamedR Sat 26-Mar-16 12:12:05

I would just appeal and try to mediate alongside of that. You can show that was open to talking but unwilling to waste more time.

I have never used a solicitor for my appeals. You can self represent and lots of parents do so successfully.

rumi102006 Sat 26-Mar-16 13:15:26

@AugustaFinkNottle and lottielou7
Thanks for the recommendation. I have heard of Watkins and will get in touch with them. Any case at the tribunal is as good as the person representing it and ths issue with solicitors is there are no reviews online lol. smile. so was looking for recommendations here.

Anyone recommend solicitors (based in Wales) that specialise in education law?

2boysnamedR
Take your point regarding self representation but tbh I am not very good at negotiating. Besides, the blatant disregard for the law by LEA (despite pointing them out in the first meeting) leaves little room for negotiation. I will still try through PPS to see if something can be sorted. Going to the solicitors only mean the money I spend on them will not be going towards home based provisions (funded privately) we made for our son.

Keeping fingers crossed. confused

lottielou7 Sat 26-Mar-16 15:49:00

It does all depend on the type of case that you have. For example, if it's ABA it's generally a more complex appeal because of the Wiltshire judgement.

I don't try to represent myself because I become literally obsessed and I think that as a parent I can't look as objectively at the legal case as a solicitor can. But there are many parents who can.

rumi102006 Sat 26-Mar-16 20:31:32

What is the Wiltshire judgement you refer to? A quick google didn't return any result. Can you provide further info?
I agree with your view on self representation and thats exactly how I am.

lottielou7 Sat 26-Mar-16 21:15:27

Its known as T vs Wiltshire 2002 (I think!) and is a high court judgment which says the tribunal has no power to order home based provision if it considers the LA's choice of provision to be appropriate. Anyone who has been to tribunal to try to get ABA in a statement will be familiar with this judgement. It kind of suggests that the odds are stacked against home based provision and children should be in school where possible.

It quite possible to win in spite of it (we did and so have many, many others) but it's just something to bear in mind - it means that ABA cases are more complex and have to be carefully prepared.

2boysnamedR Sat 26-Mar-16 22:38:40

I represented myself with SLT and educational psychs with me. I was after SLT provision in mainstream so maybe a bit less complex.

One tip I say, avoid a Friday afternoon hearing. You can say days you can / can't do on the appeal. My Friday afternoon hearing was rushed ( think they wanted to go home!) a all day hearing might not be like that

AugustaFinkNottle Mon 28-Mar-16 00:44:31

There is a firm in Wales that does education law, but to be honest they're expensive and not that good. I'd stick with Watkins if I were you, as they have quite a lot of experience of Wales tribunal appeals.

rumi102006 Mon 28-Mar-16 09:23:59

@ AugustaFinkNottle

Thanks. Are you referring to the below Watkins?

www.watkinssolicitors.co.uk/

AugustaFinkNottle Mon 28-Mar-16 09:27:55

Yes, that's the one, OP.

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