Special educational needs and disability matters
Our experience in this area encompasses policy advice as well as supporting the relationship between the academy or school with the local authority and parents. In terms of policy advice, the Children and Families Act 2014 requires all state funded schools to put in place new processes to support children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) and make their approach available and accessible to the public on their website.
We regularly act for schools and support them in disputes with local authorities and other agencies. We work closely with schools to ensure the best possible outcome and have successfully supported schools in referring matters to the Secretary of State as well as taking or defending legal action where proceedings are required.
We also provide expert advice and practical support to all schools on Equality Act issues including claims for race, sex, religious or disability discrimination. This includes dealing with complaints or exclusion decisions which may have Equality Act implications. In addition, we have worked with a number of schools on claims lodged with the SEND Tribunal and have provided practical advice, support and representation which has resulted in successful outcomes for those schools.
What we do...
- Advising on the changes required to policy frameworks in light of the legislation on SEND and equalities.
- Advising on complaints arising from decisions, actions or inaction in relation to SEND pupils within schools or from other users of premises.
- Giving practical advice on all aspects of school operations which impact on the SEND and equalities framework including those aspects covered above and SEN/high needs funding concerns, collaboration with other schools, alternative provision and uniform issues.
- Reviewing documentation, drafting responses to local authority consultations and assistance in referring disputes to the Secretary of State.
- Supporting proposed admission of pupils with SEN statements or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans.
Supporting a school
Supporting a school on a dispute with a local authority that had agreed the school was unsuitable for a child given their needs, but had failed to take any action as a result. We advised the school and corresponded with the local authority setting out concerns over the lack of action. We then referred the matter to the Secretary of State and the local authority immediately placed the child in an appropriate placement.
Supporting a mainstream academy in negotiations with the local authority regarding the expansion of the academy to include designated SEN provision. We negotiated the terms of a service agreement to cover the LA/academy relationship, including the management of admissions and finalised changes to the funding agreement with the EFA.
Supporting a secondary academy
Supporting a secondary academy on a proposal by the local authority to name the academy on a child’s statement. We worked with the academy to identify flaws in the process and to highlight the practical issues with the admission of the child. We advised and supported on the referral of the matter to the Secretary of State who agreed with the concerns raised and directed the local authority to begin the process of consultation again.
Representing a selective academy
Representing a selective academy on an admissions complaint and in subsequent disability discrimination proceedings at the SEND Tribunal. Following our advocacy at the tribunal hearing, the claim against the academy was dismissed.
"Incredibly professional, approachable and knowledgeable workforce. The key difference in working with Browne Jacobson is that they really understand the Education sector and are able to answer questions, provide advice and support that is relevant, relatable and really straight-forward to understand and action."
"First class in all aspects of Educational law e.g. admissions, SEND, exclusions, GDPR and HR."
"While the team have detailed knowledge of the education sector, they consistently take a pragmatic approach that supports the clients understanding and ensures decisions are meaningful. They understand the requirements to such an extent that options, and recommendations, are clear and timely."
"Browne Jacobson have taken the time to understand our needs and preferred approach," one impressed client remarks, adding: "They are always accessible and we’ve never had to wait for a response, email or return call."
You may be interested in...
New case on the reasonable adjustment duty for pupils in schools
Half of school leaders think Ofsted does not have the expertise for Multi-Academy Trust inspections, according to new survey
School leaders survey – the results are in!
FAQs - converting to academy status
Children's commissioner recommendations for SEND reform
The Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, has recently published a report “Beyond the labels: a SEND system which works for every child, every time”, which she intends to sit alongside the DfE’s SEND Review (2019) and SEND Green Paper (2022) and which she hopes will put children’s voices at the heart of the government’s review of SEND system.
Law firm picks up record breaking sixth Education Investor Award
Browne Jacobson’s education team has been named as winner of the ‘Legal Advisors to Education Institutions’ category at the Education Investor Awards 2022 for a record sixth time.
Browne Jacobson’s market leading Education expertise recognised again in latest Legal 500 rankings
The new set of Legal 500 directory rankings have been published and we are proud to once again be recognised as one of the country’s leading firms advising the Education sector.
Key steps to avoid falling foul of disability discrimination laws
The law around disability discrimination against pupils is not straightforward – but the reputational risk, let alone costs, of falling foul of the law are huge, so it’s worth upskilling staff whenever possible, as these two lawyers outline.
Browne Jacobson’s C-suite exec level coaching team appoints two new education specialists
National law firm Browne Jacobson has grown its team behind its dedicated Space + Time executive coaching programme with the addition of two more qualified coaches who will work with clients in the education sector.
The Disabled Students Commission – supporting students on their journey through higher education
Schools and education authorities in England have had a duty to provide reasonable adjustments for disabled pupils since 2002. Disabled pupils have been supported in this way within the school environment but what can they expect as they continue their education journey into higher education?
Advocacy in Action: school places during a national pandemic
In this second Advocacy in Action update, we consider the issue of claims arising from school placements during Covid-19 lockdown.
Department for Education (DfE) guidance on educational provision during lockdown
The government decision on lockdown and the subsequent Department for Education (DfE) guidance vulnerable children and the children of critical workers and actions for schools to take during lockdown.
Admissions Code consultation
The Department for Education (DfE) is currently consulting on a draft version of the School Admissions Code.
Admissions during Covid-19
Whilst the Department for Education (DfE) has implemented statutory changes to elements of the frameworks relating to admission appeals, exclusions and special educational needs, there have been no changes relating to the legislation relating to admissions.
Covid19: changes to special educational needs and disability (SEND) legislation
The DfE has published a notice under the Coronavirus Act 2020 as well as amending regulations and guidance which make some changes to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) framework arising from the Children & Families Act 2014 and the SEND Regulations 2014.
Coronavirus – guidance to social care and schools on vulnerable children and young people
With Covid-19 expected to place a substantial burden on statutory services and school closures being put into effect, the Government has now issued guidance on continued protection of this group.
In the first of what we hope will become a regular feature in Be Connected, Nick MacKenzie reviews what’s on the horizon for the education sector and briefly shares with you a number of themes.
Review of SEND Framework
Is the SEND system working?
A recent report from the Local Government Ombudsman has highlighted significant concerns with the operation of the SEND system which is resulting in 87% of parental complaints against local authorities on SEND being upheld by the Ombudsman.
Next steps for SEN funding
The Secretary of State for Education is reportedly announcing a call for evidence on the issue of SEN funding today.
SEND funding not matching demand
Recent reports from the National Education Union conference have reinforced the current issues arising out of funding the support that children with SEND require.
Challenges to SEND funding
A recent High Court decision has confirmed that the use of funding bands to allocate funding to children with Education Health & Care Plans is not unlawful and is sufficient to meet the duties placed on local authorities to secure special educational provision set out in such a plan.
PRU and exclusion surge continues
Latest figures show that the number of primary aged pupils in PRUs has seen a sharp increase.
A recent judicial review case taken by an academy trust against a local authority has provided some useful guidance for schools when dealing with requests to admit children with EHCPs.