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Has anyone ever gone to an appeal?

(29 Posts)
GentleOtter Mon 04-Aug-08 14:00:51

We have an appeal meeting coming up very soon against the council's decision not to send our child to a special school and I am terrified.

What can we expect given that the board are total strangers (yet have the ultimate decision on our child's futurehmm

How can I cope with this without vomiting with nerves or becoming furious? I am so bloody exhausted that I'm not always taking information in properly so am worried that I miss the point or something.

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 14:07:18

It's a very stressful time.
Post thison Special Needs board. You will have lots of replies and support from the gang who frequent it. smile

GentleOtter Mon 04-Aug-08 14:23:54

Thank you

Celia2 Mon 04-Aug-08 14:25:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GentleOtter Mon 04-Aug-08 14:33:17

We have something similar here and I did contact them but they are not interested in helping us.
They came to our house when we were out (taking the baby to the doctor for an emergency) but seemed angry at us for not being there.
Carers support are being useless as well.

Homsa Mon 04-Aug-08 20:01:16

Hi GentleOtter, we had a SENDIST appeal a few months ago to get funding for DS's ABA programme, and won (not everything we asked for, but loads more than we would have got without a fight). It lasted from 10am til 5pm and was incredibly daunting and very draining. However, even though I'm a very shy person and find public speaking very difficult, I did manage to get my point across, and if I can do it, anyone can!!!

We had a solicitor - provided pro bono by the NAS - but unfortunately he was very inexperienced in SEN tribunals and so I ended up presenting much of our case myself. Parent Partnership are not independent of the LEA and I think you're better off without them tbh.

My top tips, in no particular order, would be:
1) If you find it hard to take in what is being said, take someone with you just to take notes, and ask for regular breaks to go through the notes with them and plan what to say next.
2) Prepare a list of key points and make sure you hammer them home during the hearing. Tick each one off when done.
3) Bring drinks and some food (muesli bars or similar) that gives you an energy burst when you need it.
4) Write a summary of your key points to help you "sum up" at the end. Keep updating this throughout the hearing.
5) Don't panic if the LEA's people seem to monopolise the conversation, especially if the LEA's case statement was a lot shorter than yours - the panel might simply want to give them a chance to present their case a bit better.
6) Try to negotiate with the LEA "without prejudice" before the hearing, and create a "working document", i.e. a version of the statement that clearly sets out the points agreed / under dispute. Get the LEA to sign it and send to SENDIST.

CAT me if you want to ask specific questions.
Good luck!

moondog Mon 04-Aug-08 20:04:37

V good advice Homsa.
Congratulations! smile

GentleOtter Mon 04-Aug-08 20:12:48

Homsa - your posting has made me cry. Thank you for these pointers as this is what I was needing to keep on track.

Our LEA have been difficult and are arguing that it costs too much yet I am unable to get a figure from them on how much it costs to educate a special needs child in mainstream.

Massive congratulations on winning your case and very good luck to your DS. smile

Homsa Mon 04-Aug-08 22:40:35

Thanks Moondog and Otter smile

Your LEA should really have included their costings in their case statement, if their main argument is incompatibility with the efficient use of resources. I wouldn't worry too much about this though - after all this is supposed to be all about meeting the child's needs. From what I've read about SEN law, and knowing nothing about your case, your argument will probably hinge on showing that a mainstream school with a bit of LSA support, termly SALT, whatever, can't meet your child's needs, whereas the special school you want, can. Once you've proven that, the cost argument becomes irrelevant.

But if it helps, in our LEA a place at a special school would have cost just over £14,000, and a mainstream school placement would be around £2600 plus £5571 for 15 hours of LSA support (per year, that is). You could try looking up "Section 52" on your council's website, that should give you all the school budgets (but making head or tail of them is another matter...)

How are you bearing up otherwise? During those last few weeks before our hearing I was like a zombie... I left my keys stuck in our front door overnight (from the outside), left a buggy (without baby! I hasten to add) by the roadside and drove off, lost my credit card... could write a long list here!

Stay strong and give them hell grin

bonkerz Mon 04-Aug-08 23:00:43

Im about to go to appeal in September to ask for a special school for my DS. My LEA still want him in a MS with 32.5 hours of support and i have 35 emails from MS schools saying they dont think he belongs in MS! I dont think we are going to win our appeal but im fighting it every step of the way. Sorry im not much help. I did also go to appeal in Sept last year because the same LEA refused to even assess DS for a statement! Obviously we won that appeal! Its very frightening sitting in a room having to fight for oyur child but its also worth remembering that the panel are impartial and will look at everything so make sure oyu are clear why you have chosen the school and clear about all your childs needs. Parent Partnership have been amazing support to me for the last 2 years!

gaia Tue 05-Aug-08 21:05:29

Homsa's advice is great. I would second the advice about snacks. The other thing is the panel really are independent. Ours was excellent. One of the things they did with us was right at the start asked if we had a picture of our child so they could see him and asked us to describe him, so they could get an impression of him from us. It was a bit daunting and formal but they realise that. You can take someone with you as a supporter, you could speak to the appeal clerk about that if you haven't already. And have you contacted ipsea or any of the support groups around? I found talking to people who were on my side and had been through it really useful when I was freaking out in the weeks beforehand. We got what we wanted and the panel members were quite critical of the lea once or twice, which was nice! Who is going to the appeal with you?

GentleOtter Tue 05-Aug-08 22:50:43

My son is going to come with me - he will be taking notes plus a lawyer that we do not know very well.
Today I took all the children all the way in to town to get shopping only to discover that I had left my purse at home...cue trip all the way back. I had also left the key in the door.

We received the lawyer's report only today but it seems to be pretty comprehensive but really last minute.
sorry, I'm havering now and desperately tired but unable to sleep.

GentleOtter Wed 06-Aug-08 12:58:16

I am so nervous. Just a couple of hours to go and we have just been told that we will not be getting Legal Aid for the appeal.

Candlewax Wed 06-Aug-08 17:33:31

No one gets Legal Aid for SENDIST I'm afraid. You have to pay all your own legal costs.sad We are going to Appeal but our Hearing is not until December.

GentleOtter Wed 06-Aug-08 19:06:58

I am just back and we lost sad
We will now have to go to court.

Homsa Wed 06-Aug-08 20:21:30

sad So sorry to hear that.

Don't quite understand what kind of appeal this was though? Can't have been SENDIST as you'd have to wait about 2 weeks for the decision. Was this some kind of SEN panel of the LEA?

moondog Wed 06-Aug-08 20:23:32

Ah gentle, sosorry. Why do they not agree with special school placement?

robinpud Wed 06-Aug-08 20:27:21

So sorry to hear the outcome; I don't have real experience of this except that my neighbours took our LEA to appeal and then tribunal but I know they used a solicitor with special experience in these areas for the tribunal. Good luck.

GentleOtter Thu 07-Aug-08 08:32:24

I woke up feeling really flat today.
The appeal was to the LEA who want to send my child to the local mainstream huge secondary school but we wanted her to go to a special school (close by).
The LEA refused because of the cost but they also refused to answer my question on how much it cost *the public purse* to educate a special needs pupil in mainstream with one to one teaching.

We were appealing because this mainstream school could not guarantee her safety and she would be faced with 3000 plus pupils. It is infamous for being a particularly rough school. sad

I had made it clear beforehand that the school of their choice was not an option to us and my child is really anxious because of their insisting she goes there. I told them that I would home educate rather than put her at risk but they still insist that she goes to this awful school.

The special school is a lovely place with only a few pupils and my daughter loved it there and made friends. She attended for a few days (for assessment) and said that "All the others were just the same as her". It was the first time she realised she was 'different' but was not made to feel different.

I don't know what to do next as I'm mentally tired from yesterday and the whole (Scottish) legal thing is confusing.

Sorry to rant on but why are the council so difficult and downright nasty about it all. It is my daughter's own choice to go to the special school where her friends are.

bonkerz Thu 07-Aug-08 08:37:14

so was this a panel meeting with the LEA then because if so you can appeal through SENDIST who are impartial!

GentleOtter Thu 07-Aug-08 08:48:52

Sorry to sound really clueless but does SENDIST work in Scotland?
I did approach ENQUIRE but because the LEA refused to award a Coordinated Support Plan (she has an Individual Education Plan instead) then they could not appeal on our behalf.

moondog Thu 07-Aug-08 11:45:53

Gentle, that isillegal. They have to answer that question.

moondog Thu 07-Aug-08 11:46:24

It will come under Freedom of information act. Write,citing it. You will get your answer.

GentleOtter Thu 07-Aug-08 11:58:18

They said it was "Negative finance" and did I not understand what she was saying....?

I repeated the question and asked for the specific amount payable out of the public purse but again she repeated that 'Negative finance' covers it ie the education has already paid for it.
However, the press are also interested in the sum too and it would appear that despite the FOI the LEA are reluctant to divulge the true sum.
In my reckoning it will be considerably more than the special school's fees.

moondog Thu 07-Aug-08 12:00:18

Are you posting in SN thread too?
Lotshave gone through this.

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