Starting, or going back to, school after a brain injury is a major milestone to be celebrated.
It also prompts numerous considerations for parents, the local education authority and the school. For example, in order to assist the development of your child, support arrangements need to be regularly reviewed and updated. But what happens when these arrangements are not reviewed, who should be looking after your child’s support arrangements and where can you get the specialist advice that you need?
We can help with these questions and many others, including:
Special Educational Needs Advice
When your child or young person is ready to start or return to school or college following brain injury, they may require extra support from their school to help them reach their full potential. Special educational needs (SEN) is a complex area of law and as parents, you may wish to seek help from a specialist solicitor. Among the membership of Brain Injury Group, we have a number of solicitors who specialise in this area of the law, who are available to offer free initial no-obligation advice to families across England and Wales.
Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP)
It is important to work closely with your child or young person’s school or college, so the right support is in place. It’s likely your child will be placed on SEN support, but if it is apparent that your child’s challenges are going to be significant, requesting an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment should be a priority so that an EHCP can be put in place. Obtaining an EHCP for your child or young person can take up to 20 weeks to complete and involves a specific set of legal procedures and tests as well as collating evidence from a range of professionals to present a detailed picture of your child and the help they will need. Our member law firms can help you at all stages of the process, from discussing what is required to be done before making a request for an EHC needs assessment, through to appealing the content of the EHCP.
Statements of SEN and EHCPs must be reviewed at least once a year, referred to as an Annual Review. Your local authority, school or college and the professionals who support your child or young person will be invited to a meeting to consider whether the Statement or EHCP needs to be changed, and as parents, your own views and those of your child will also be considered. Following this meeting, a report will be prepared by the school and submitted to the local authority to decide whether any changes are necessary.
The Annual Review is a good time to bring up any concerns you may have and an opportunity to discuss these with the school or college and local authority. Once a decision has been made, the local authority will notify you of any amendment to your child or young person’s statement or EHCP and you will have the right of appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) if you disagree with any of the decisions.
For the majority of disagreements concerning an EHCP, before any appeal can be started, you will need to speak with a mediator about the possibility of mediation. The SENDIST has a discretionary power to allow an appeal without first considering mediation, but it can be difficult to convince the Tribunal to exercise this power.
When a decision regarding an EHCP is communicated to you, the local authority will also provide details of a local mediation service. If you wish to appeal the decision made, you will have two months from the date on the decision letter, in which to contact the mediation service. Mediation is a process where you can talk through issues point by point with the local authority, with a mediator present to guide the session. Whilst this is intended to be an informal process, you will need to have an understanding of applicable law so it can be useful to at least speak to a specialist lawyer before mediation, or to have a lawyer present at the mediation.
How we can help
Brain Injury Group members aim to make the legal process as straightforward as possible, with support when you need it, to achieve an outcome which enables your child or young person to move forward with their education.