See the following organisations which offer legal support for parents and carers. This is not an exhaustive list, but a hand-picked selection of really useful sources of help. For the most comprehensive, searchable guide to services for disabled children and their families in the borough please see the Royal Borough of Greenwich's Local Offer website.
SCHOOL EXCLUSION PROJECT: FREE LEGAL REPRESENTATION
The School Exclusion Project provides free legal representation to challenge permanent school exclusion. Their volunteer representatives provide totally free advice and representation at all stages of the exclusion process.They specialise in cases involving SEN and disability. Just received an exclusion letter? Confused? Need advice or representation? Get in touch with them to access support quickly. SEP provide advice and representation at the point of exclusion, at Governing Body Hearings, Independent Review Panels and First Tier Tribunals.
This service/ support is offered by Postgraduate students at City University who are given training on the law of school exclusions and disability discrimination by Sarah Hannett, the barrister director, who has expertise in each of these fields. Each student is then assigned to a barrister mentor at Matrix Chambers. These practitioners, ranging from QCs to more junior practitioners, are all people with experience of running education cases.
These students are managed by a team of dedicated student directors. These six students are responsible for the day-to-day running of the project‟s cases, and for all of the outreach and publicity work. The student chair of the project is Alice Bacon and profiles of the other student directors can be found on their website.
The SEP website offers a wealth of other resources such as ‘A guide to school exclusion’ ‘Know your rights’ explanations and ‘Quick Help’ for checklists and a ‘Young Persons Guide”.
Go to the School Exclusion Project website for more information at
List of solicitors that have experience in SEND cases
Click here for a list of solicitors to use for SEN and disability cases
Offering information and support to all disabled people especially in further education and the workplace. Disability Rights are “disabled people leading change, working to create a society where everyone with lived experience of disability or health conditions can participate equally as full citizens.
“We are leading change to: mobilise disabled people’s leadership and control – in our own lives, our organisations and society, achieve independent living in practice, break the link between disability and poverty, put disability equality and human rights into practice across society.
“Two priorities for the 2013 -2015 period: Independent Living – getting a life – We want to see more disabled people exercising choice and control over our support and our lives, to realise the human right to participate fully in society. Career Opportunities – getting work, education and skills – We want greater equality at work – a reduced gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s employment and pay.”
On their website you can find information fact-sheets across a wide range of topics, links to organisations who provide information on different disabilities, advice on benefits, care and debt as well as government departments.
They provide advice to disabled students who are studying in England and support students who are studying in Wales and Scotland with general information on the Equality Act, welfare benefits and access to Higher Education.
They provide helplines:
Public helplines for independent living
Public helpline for disabled student queries
Helpline for member organisations.
Partner with The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS), to provide support for disabled people who feel they may have been discriminated against.
They’ve also teamed up with Irwin Mitchell solicitors to provide legal support. Irwin Mitchell’s legal team are recognised national experts, fighting and winning hundreds of disability and patients’ rights cases every year.
They also publish the Disability Rights Handbook, new edition out soon
Go to disabilityrightsuk.org
IPSEA provides free and independent online resources to help resolve common issues with getting the right educational support for children and young people with all kinds of special educational needs and disabilities. It also runs an Information Service. This uses an online form to clarify your legal position and signpost you to help.
IPSEA provides a general Advice Line (giving support with requesting statutory assessment, statements, Education, Health and Care plans, disability discrimination, transport and exclusion). It also provides a Tribunal Helpline (giving next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal). When you call the Tribunal Helpline they will assess whether you need Tribunal Casework Support from one of their trained Tribunal Support volunteers (who give support throughout the Tribunal process, including representation at a hearing if needed).
Both helplines are run by volunteers working from their own homes. After listening to the issue you are calling about, they will ask questions to unpick and clarify your situation. Then they will give you next-step advice. All volunteer advisers have been highly trained to give advice and support based on the law. They will take some information about you and your child. This is held on their unique database (unless you do not wish it to be kept).
You can call either of the IPSEA helplines as often as you need to. Their volunteers can look on the database to see whether you have contacted them before – and if so, what advice you have been given. If a volunteer cannot advise you immediately, they will consult with IPSEA’s Legal Team in order to provide the advice you need.
ADVICE LINE: 0800 018 4016
Please click on the link below to read the terms around using their advice line before you call:
IPSEA’S TRIBUNAL SUPPORT
Tribunal casework volunteers provide free individual support to families appealing to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. This unique service can only be accessed by calling the Tribunal Helpline. If their assessment is that you need this support, it will be provided throughout the Tribunal process – including representation at a hearing if needed. Casework volunteers work with parents to empower them to obtain the best possible result from their appeal.
Here are IPSEA’s office contact details. Please note that their office cannot provide advice or support.
For advice and support you need to use one of IPSEA’s free services.
Independent Parental Special Education Advice
Tel: 01799 582030
IRWIN MITCHELL SOLICITORS FREE LEGAL FACTSHEETS AND RESOURCES
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors has teamed up with deafblind charity Sense and Steve Broach, a barrister at Monckton Chambers, to design legal training for ‘Independent Supporters’ – a government-funded programme led by the Council for Disabled Children to provide support to families who have children with special educational needs and need additional advice on the reforms.
As part of this project, Irwin Mitchell and its partners have prepared a series of fact-sheets and template letters on Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014.
The fact sheets cover every aspect of the Reforms from assessment through to making a complaint in relation to failure to arrange provision in the EHC plan.
Their list of template letters have been prepared to support parents and young people in writing to local authorities. To use this great resource click on the link below:
NB.Template letters have not been prepared for circumstances where parents or young people wish to challenge a decision or exercise their rights of appeal, as they should seek specialist advice instead.
CARERS UK - FACTSHEET ON WORKPLACE RIGHTS
Carers UK is a nationwide charity giving a wide range support to all carers. They've published a fantastic document which provides you with an comprehensive look at your rights as a carer, in the workplace. To read and download the document click on the link below: