WHAT WE DO

Essential SEN is a niche service which provides legal advice, support, guidance and training to local authorities and professionals working in the field of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). We also provide support in respect of SEND Tribunals for local authorities, which includes full management of the appeal and arranging representation

blick
Our Services

Our Services

We provide local authorities and professionals, including SENCo’s, educational psychologists, specialist teachers and health profesionals, with a range of services designed to navigage the challenges posed by the SEN system:

  • Strategic support and consultancy in respect of SEN policies and procedures
  • SEN tribunal support, which includes the full management of the appeal and representation
  • SEN training on a wide range of areas associated with the Children and Families Act and the SEN framework
  • An SEN membership service which provides local authorities and professionals with access to discounted legal fees and access to specialist SEN resources and training.
  • SEN publications and online materials
  • SEN Events held across the United Kingdom

For an informal discussion on the range of services we provide, please contact us on 01908 246020 or by email at admin@essentialsen.co.uk.

SEN Kids

Support and Consultancy

We provide a wide range of services to local authorities to support them in delivering their SEN Services. Our team are unrivalled in its expertise with experience of working within SEN teams and providing support across the public sector.

AREAS SEN SUPPORTS

We provide support in a range of areas including:

  • Advising on matters of SEN policy
  • Advising on establishment of SEN provision in maintained schools
  • Building resilience in SEN Teams to deal with legal queries and respond to parental complaints.
  • Supporting the professional development of staff through guidance and training
  • Designing statutory processes and procedures

The support and expertise we provide is highly regarded by Local Authorities to such a degree that one of our former staff is now the Deputy Head of SEN at the Tri-Borough in London and another has been tasked with building SEN legal expertise at LGSS Law in Cambridgeshire.

Tribunal Support

We have considerable experience defending appeals in the SENDIST and in pursuing appeals in the Upper Tier Tribunal on behalf of local authorities. We provide support throughout the appeal process, which includes advisory support, full management of the appeal itself and arranging representation at the final hearing. Our SEN Tribunal services are unrivalled and we are one of the few law firms in the UK who provide fully inclusive SEN advice and support services to local authorities.

The support we provide through this package includes:

  • 100 hours of support which can be used flexibly and in the following areas:
    • telephone and written advice on general SEN queries
    • advice on individual SEND appeals
    • drafting letters and documents in response to parental queries or complaints
    • drafting documents on a range of SEN issues
    • attending meetings to provide advice
  • Free copies of our quarterly SEN Brief for one year; this sets out developments in the law which officers need to be aware of

Costs

The SEND Advisory Package costs £8,000.00 per annum. A 5% discount off of the package is provided to SEN Members.

We provide full management of an appeal, including:

  • Providing initial advice on the merits of the appeal.
  • Attendance at case planning meeting with SEN Officers to discuss the case and what evidence is required.
  • Drafting and preparation of documents, including case statements and witness statements.
  • Liaising with SEN Officers on the conduct of the appeal and the preparation of evidence – i.e. the preparation of expert reports and reports from school.
  • Liaising with parental representatives in respect of the appeal.
  • Liaising with the Tribunal and dealing with all case management.
  • Supporting the preparation of the local authority’s evidence.
  • Pre-Tribunal meeting with witnesses.
  • Representation at the hearing or arranging representation from Counsel.
  • Post hearing written review.

These services are provided in accordance with the following rates, which are competitively priced:

  • Solicitor Advocate                £150.00 per hour.
  • Senior Solicitor                     £120.00 per hour
  • Solicitor                                  £100.00 per hour
  • Trainee Solicitor                    £85.00 per hour
  • Paralegal                                £75.00 per hour

Our fees our discounted by 5% for SEN Members.

At the commencement of a case, we would provide an initial estimate of costs so that you have some idea of the likely legal cost involved overall in resolving the matter. As the case progresses, we will provide you with regular cost updates.

Where counsel is instructed, we are able to secure competitive rates from leading chambers, ensuring that at all stages of the process you have the best representation possible.

What Support We Provide

Every health check is different and depends entirely on the local authority. However, a typical audit may involve the following:

  • We will meet with your senior SEN Managers and agree a brief for the audit; we will set a timescale for completing the audit.
  • We will attend your offices and undertake the audit which may involve:
    • Observing several SEN Panel meetings
    • Considering a random selection of Statements of Special Educational Needs
    • Considering a random selection of annual reviews
    • Considering a random selection of case files
    • Providing a questionnaire for officers to complete so as to establish the level of SEN awareness
    • Liaison with Parent Partnership, which can provide useful feedback on how parents perceive the service
    • Consider the number of SEN Appeals and the nature of the appeals
    • Liaison with a selected pool of local schools to obtain their feedback on how they perceive the service. We will prepare a preliminary report setting out our findings and recommendations
    • We will undertake any remedial action required on your behalf or provide you with the guidance to do it

Our Experience

We have experience undertaking a number of SEN Health Checks for a number of authorities, in particular:

  • Establishing SEND appeal services for a London Borough and eastern county resulting in better preparation of appeals, legal support for officers and improving outcomes at the tribunal
  • Reviewing the SEN panel procedures for a London Borough and suggesting new terms of reference to reduce the bureaucracy of the process and implementing new decision-making procedures to ensure that decisions are taken with legal considerations in mind and recorded more transparently
  • Establishing an appeal system for parents to appeal against SEN transport decisions, where the local authority has declined to provide transport for a child with a Statement of Special Educational Needs
  • Reviewing the specificity and quantification of Statements and undertaking staff training so that officers are confidently able to draft Statements; this reduced the Council’s reliance on external consultants

The SEN Health Check is available either via our daily agreed rate or via a fixed fee, tailored to your own individual needs. Our daily rate is £450.00 per day. The level of fixed fee will depend on the nature of the agreed brief but can range from £2,000 to £10,000. Our fees for conducting any work under this package are discounted by 5% for SEN Members.

Membership

Our SEN Membership is for local authorities and those working in the field of SEND. Our SEN Membership provides access to a wide range of services at discounted rates, which includes, advice, training, and access to online materials and resources.

The SEN Members Service is designed to be used by:

  • SEN officers
  • Educational psychologists and specialist teachers
  • Social workers
  • Parent Partnership officers
  • SENCOs or SEN Co-ordinators
  • Health service professionals

The SEN Members Service includes the following benefits:

Membership provides subscribers with the following benefits:

  • 10% off our legal fees
  • Discounts on our SEN products and training
  • Free copy of our quarterly publication, SEN Brief, which provides updates on the law relating to SEND

Online Services and Publications

At Essential SEN we understand the challenges faced by local authorities in responding to legal challenges and in obtaining access to legal materials. To meet this ever increasing need we have developed a bespoke and password protected Online Service which provides access to a wide range of resources and precedents. We have also published a number of legal guides for practical use by SEN officers and professionals. These guides are all designed to make the job of applying the law much easier in a period of increasing challenge.

Membership Form

ORDER FORM
  • Publications & Online Services

    At ESSENTIALSEN we produce legal guides designed to be used by educational settings, local authorities and professionals. Our guides can be ordered using the online order form.

  • The tool kit is produced in a bespoke binder and contains practical guides on key areas of the Children and Families Act 2014, which are designed for practical application by local authorities in carrying out their day to day duties. They include: - When to carry out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment - Drafting an Education Health and Care Plan - Writing professional reports - Duties of health and social care - Duties of schools and colleges - Challenging schools and colleges - Home education - Annual Reviews - Cessation of Education, Health and Care Plans - Mediation and Disagreement Resolution
  • This is our quarterly publication which provides an update for local authorities, professionals and educational settings on legal developments and topics of interest in the field of Special Educational Needs. Written by specialist education lawyers, this is a must have publication if you want to keep up to date in an ever changing and challenging legal arena.
  • This guide provides an overview of the SEN Tribunal system and sets out how to approach and respond to appeals. Written by specialist education lawyers, this is a must have publication if you are managing or presenting appeals on behalf of a local authority.
  • Headteachers, SENCOs and professionals are now being expected to attend SEN Tribunal hearings to give evidence to support local authority decisions. Attending a hearing can be a daunting task despite the supposed informal nature of the proceedings. This publication provides guidance for witnesses on attending hearings and details of what they can expect when giving evidence and how they need to prepare, particularly where parents are represented.
  • Not all children and young people with difficulties are eligible for an EHC Needs Assessment or will be assessed to be eligible to receive support through an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Certain statutory criteria must be met at each stage. However, whether a child or young person should be assessed or should have an EHC Plan are areas of law which historically have been subject to the most number of appeals and adverse Tribunal decisions. This guide explains the law relating to EHC Needs Assessments and the circumstances when the local authority must issue an EHCP.
  • The Children and Families Act 2014 has extended the rights of parents and young people to request a different array of educational settings, including schools, further education colleges and non-maintained special schools. This guide provides an overview of the relevant statutory provisions which must be taken into account by the local authority in considering the parental/young person’s preference.
  • The law requires Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP) to be succinct and for the needs and provision to be clearly specified and quantified. This guide identifies what is required to be specified in an EHCP and provides guidance for SEN Officers, SENCOs and professionals on how to create a legally compliant EHCP.
  • The annual review is probably the most important statutory process once an Education, Health and Care Plan has been issued. It should be used to review the child/young person’s progress and to determine if special educational needs provision is still necessary. This guide provides an overview of the annual review process and the timescales which must be observed and when decisions must be made by the local authority.
  • Increasing numbers of parents are requesting local authorities to fund expensive home programmes for children and young people. This is often requested as an alternative to attending school or in combination with a school placement. These types of programmes are often following approaches such as Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA). The guide provides an overview of how requests need to be approached by the local authority and how they should be managed where funding is agreed. A poorly managed programme can result in significant expenditure being provided to support programmes which are having limited educational value for children. The guide also sets out what steps must be taken where a decision is made to end funding of a programme.
  • It is often believed (wrongly) that parents are free to educate a child/young person with an Education, Health and Care Plan at home without the need for consent from the local authority. This guide clarifies the law in respect of home education and outlines the powers available to a local authority where it challenges the request for home education.
  • Historically very few local authorities have ceased Statements of Special Educational Needs despite this being a decision which should be considered at each annual review. This guide explains the law in relation to the cessation of Education, Health and Care Plans and describes the criteria which must be considered.
  • One of the main problems with the SEN system is the quality of Education, Health and Care Plans. This is often caused by a lack of specific and quantified advice. This leads to parents and young people appealing against the contents of their plan. The quality of expert evidence produced by the local authority is therefore open to increasing levels of scrutiny. This guide identifies how reports should be structured and what specific issues need to be covered to ensure a robust and legally sound report is produced.
  • Under the Children and Families Act 2014, Education, Health and Social Care Services are required to work together in assessing and offering services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. This is leading to increasing requests for 52 week residential educational placements. This guide identifies how to manage requests for placements of this type and what must be considered in managing any appeal to the SEN Tribunal.
  • Under the Children and Families Act 2014, part funding of educational placements is prohibited. This guide explains the law in respect of part funding and what agreements may be reached by local authorities in negotiating placements with parents.
  • The Children and Families Act 2014 does not provide a right of education to young people beyond the age of 19. However, the statutory criteria is confused and conflicting in explaining when education should cease. This guide sets out the law in respect of the entitlement to education and evaluates the circumstances where post 19 education may be refused for young people.
  • The Children and Families Act 2014 gives rights to young people over compulsory school age and there is an expectation that they will play a greater role in the decision making process. This guide deals with the rights of young people and issues concerning mental capacity.
  • Under the Children and Families Act, local authorities must work with a wider range of educational settings including early years settings, schools and colleges. This guide explains the challenges facing local authorities and how potential issues can be resolved without prejudicing relationships with parents, carers and young people.
  • The duties of health and social care services have been extended and enhanced under the Children and Families Act 2014. This guide explains clearly the duties which must be met by health and social care and their responsibilities for implementing Education, Health and Care Plans.
  • The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced mediation and disagreement resolution in an attempt to reduce disputes and the need for appeals to the SEN Tribunal. This guide explores the use of mediation by local authorities and provides guidance on how mediation can be used successfully to resolve disputes with parents, carers and young people.

On receipt of your order, we will invoice you directly and please provide a purchase
order reference, where this is applicable.

Training

We provide specialist training to local authorities and professionals in the area of Special Educational Needs law and practice. Specialist training is also a feature of our SEN Support Packages and our SEN Membership.

We provide training on the following:

  • The impact of the Children and Families Act 2014
  • Tribunals
  • Complex Cases
  • Managing Complaints and Persistent Complainants
  • Managing Annual Reviews
  • Drafting EHC Plans
  • Writing Professional Reports
  • Duties of Health and Social Care
  • Duties of Educational Settings

All training sessions are designed in full-consultation with our clients. Where we are instructed a training brief if provided outlining the objectives of the training and the topics to be covered. We ensure that we meet your training needs rather than providing a general overview of the law and practice.

training-rectangle

Our training is tailor made to your own requirements. Training sessions vary in length from two hours to a full day, depending on the organisation’s needs. They can be arranged as a presentation or seminar organised for a large group of clients.

We can agree a fixed fee with you depending on your organisation’s needs and the size of the training. Our charges typically range from £750 – £1,500 per day. Any traveling costs or disbursements are agreed in advance and incorporated into the daily fee.

Events

With the implementation of the Children and Families Act and the introduction of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHC), Local Authorities, health services, professionals and educational settings will be faced with increasing legal challenges and a need to navigate a complex system. Throughout the year we organise events which are specifically designed for local authorities, health authorities, educational settings and professionals in the area of Special Educational Needs law and practice.

We are pleased to release details of our events for 2015/16 which can be accessed by clicking on the link below or by downloading our Events Brochure below.

OUR EVENTS

Brochure

We offer a range of services to Local Authorities, Health, Educational Settings and Professionals. Click on the brochures below to find out more information.