Finding your Local Offer.
'Bringing Us Together' provides a list of Local Offer websites. If you are having difficulty locating your Local Authority's Local Offer, start here.
Previously known as 'Contact a Family', Contact provides a range of information and advice for parents of children with medical conditions. For information about their Education Helpline, see here.
Council for Disabled Children
The Council for Disabled Children provides a range of resources. Also provides information about any forthcoming events. Read their briefing on the differences in the Local Offer websites in terms of the information provided by schools, and how effectively the Local Offer provides the information for parents.
Also available on the CDC website for free: 'Disabled Children and the Law' A Legal Handbook, 2nd edition, 2016'. All 11 chapters can be downloaded here.
The Council for Disabled Children also runs the IAS services (formerly known as Parent Partnership). To find your local IAS service and understand more about what support can be offered, see here.
Disability Rights UK
If you need to find out about the benefits to which you might be entitled as the parent of a child with a disability then this is a very good place to start. Their Factsheets are really helpful and free! See here. We strongly recommend their handbook which is updated every year.
Douglas Silas is a lawyer who specialises in SEN. He gives talks which are full of useful ideas based on his experience of representing parents for many years. His website is a wonderful resource which provides a list of specialist schools and other organisations. See here. He has also published an ebook called 'A Guide to the SEN Code of Practice' which has all the information you will need to understand the new SEND system. Being an ebook it will no doubt be updated as changes to the system are made.
SENDIAS (Information, Advice and Support)
IAS are available to parents in every Local Authority. They were formally known as PPO (Parent Partnership Officers). They are often very knowledgeable about local services and have had legal training from IPSEA.
You can find your local SENDIAS service here.
We strongly advise you to get to know this website which is a treasure trove of valuable information not just about the new SEND system but you may well find the answer to your specific queries on this website. They also have a General Advice and a Tribunal Support Service for parents who need help with submitting an appeal. Both of these services are accessed through booking an appointment.
Irwin Michell is a firm of solicitors whose Public Law division has produced a range of extremely useful Factsheets and Template letters which can be found here.
You may be entitled to Legal Aid to assist you with the preparation of your appeal if you are entitled to what is called a 'passport' benefit. However, in all cases, a financial eligibility assessment will still be undertaken.
If you own a property, the value of the property, less any mortgaged owed on the property, is taken into consideration. If the resulting figure is less than £8K then you are likely to be entitled to Legal Aid.
What does Legal Aid Cover?
Legal Aid will mean you will have a firm of solicitors who have a Legal Aid contract for Education, to assist with the preparation of your appeal.
Please note: this does not (in all but the most exceptional cases) include the provision of a representative for the hearing of your appeal.
Legal Aid can also fund, where appropriate, reports by independent professions, such as an assessment by an independent Educational Psychologist or independent Speech and Language therapist.
How can I find a Legal Aid solicitor?
There are two routes:
1. Via the CAA (Civil Aid Agency). In this case you will need to complete an online form to provide your financial details and, if you qualify you will be put in touch with a legal aid solicitor. For more details, see here.
2. Via a local Legal Aid solicitor. To find a local Legal Aid solicitor see here.
If you need to find out more about Social Care and the law (for both children and adults) , his website is a treasure trove of resources. Please see here. Luke also provides talks to Parent Forums.
Luke is one of the authors of 'Disabled Children and the Law - A Legal Handbook' available to download from the Council for Disabled Children's website.
National Autistic Society
The National Autistic Society provides a wealth of information about all issues relevant to raising a child with autism or being a person with autism. The National Autistic Society runs a Education Advice Helpline. For contact details see here.
SOS:SEN runs a national helpline, 'walk in' advice centres, as well as a range of useful Information Sheets. For more information, see here.