Q. Has my child been unlawfully discriminated against?
A. Call us now to discuss your concerns and to obtain clear legal advice
If you consider that your child has been discriminated against by the school or Local Authority for a reason that is related to their disability, then it is important to seek legal advice to ensure that their special educational need is recognised as a disability in accordance with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and the Equality Act 2010.
Not all children who have special educational needs are disabled. Similarly not all disabled children have a special educational need. The school and Local Authority have duties towards disabled children and must ensure that they are not treated less favourably than their counterparts. They are required to make 'reasonable adjustments' when considering how to support a disabled child.
There are also certain circumstances when a school or Local Authority can lawfully discriminate against a disabled child and that is why it is important to seek expert legal advice to determine whether or not your child has been unlawfully discriminated against and to discuss the remedies available to you.
Independent Appeal Panels
Q. Can I appeal for a place at the school of my choice?
A. Yes, parents have a right of appeal - call now for expert legal advice
Under the existing Law parents have a right to decide the school at which they may want their children to attend in accordance with s.9 Education Act 1996. However, this right is subject to limitations - the most common being that the school is full and cannot take any further children. In those circumstances a parent can appeal to the Local Education Authority, and have their case heard before an independent appeal panel.
Due to the large volume of appeals before independent panels these days, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to succeed especially when up against a local authority which has experience of large numbers of independent appeals per year and whom are often represented by an experienced advocate.
However parents' chances of success are often significantly enhanced when represented by an experienced advocate who is capable of arguing important matters of law and fact. More often than not these cases are usually won due to careful preparation and through the skill of the advocate.
It is therefore important that the person you choose is a specialist. A.M. Phillips - Education Law act for parents throughout England and Wales in these cases, so parents can be assured that their case will be handled by an education expert.
Q. How do I complain about a policy decision of my Local Authority
A. All Local Authority's must have a formal complaint policy. In addition to this, it is also possible to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO)
If you have a complaint against a public body and consider that they are guilty of 'maladministration' (i.e. they have failed to follow policies or procedures) then you may wish to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).
I have advised parents for a significant number of LGO complaints and several of omy clients have received compensation from the Local Authority as a direct result of their complaint being upheld by the Ombudsman.
Admission appeals can be stressful for parents and obtaining the right legal advice at an early stage can often make the difference between winning or losing at an appeal hearing. We have extensive experience of supporting parents with admission appeals (including a small number of children with special educational needs).
When an admission authority (Local Authority, Academy, Voluntary Controlled School) refuse to admit a child to the parents preferred school, they are required to follow a set of procedures that involves the correct application of a number of policies. It is therefore necessary to ensure that the admission authority has acted lawfully when allocating places for children at its schools.
Q. Are you in dispute with your local education authority?
A. We can appeal the decision and attend tribunal panels with you or on your behalf.
Sometimes it is not possible to reach an agreement with your Local Education Authority, or Library and Education Board (Northern Ireland) regarding your child's Special Educational Needs. At these times your right of Appeal to SENDIST (England), SENTW (Wales) or SEND (Northern Ireland) may be the only option available to you.
If you are contemplating appealing then it is imperative to obtain expert legal advice to ensure that you have the best chance of securing the appropriate special educational needs provision for your child. There are strict timescales within which you must appeal and the new tribunal regulations which came into effect in England in November 2008 have made the process of appealing more complex and legalistic for parents. Many LEAs are routinely instructing Barristers to represent them at tribunal and therefore specialist legal advice is now more important than ever.
If any of the following applies then you will have the right of appeal. If you would like to discuss matters further then please call to arrange an initial consultation.
- The LEA has refused to undertake a Formal Statutory Assessment of your child's special educational needs;
- The LEA has completed a Formal Statutory Assessment but has refused to issue a statement of special educational needs and has instead stated that a Note-in-Lieu is sufficient;
- The LEA has issued a Finalised Statement and you are unhappy with parts 2 and 3 of the statement;
- The LEA has issued a Finalised Statement and you are unhappy with the school named within part 4 of the statement;
- The LEA has issued a Finalised Statement and you are unhappy with parts 2,3 & 4 of the statement;
- The LEA has refused to change the name of the school named in part 4 of the statement, within 8 weeks of your written parental request;
- The LEA has completed an Annual Review and has refused to make any amendments to your child's statement (England);
- The LEA has issued an Amended Statement following an Annual Review and you are unhappy with the changes that they have made;
- The LEA wishes to Cease to Maintain your child's statement at age 16;
- The School or LEA has discriminated against your child and you wish to register a Disability Discrimination Appeal;