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Stalker Walk
Sheffield, England, S11 8JF
United Kingdom

07809387778

Helping parents, schools, and professionals to navigate the complex legal system of special educational needs and Education, Health & Care Plans.

Talking about Education, Health and Care Plans

Talking about Education, Health and Care Plans, and how to support parents and professionals through the complex process.

Filtering by Tag: FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL

Representing yourself through the SEN system

Bright Futures

Photo by SIphotography/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by SIphotography/iStock / Getty Images

Representing yourself through the SEN system....

This is no mean feat. 

The tribunal courts say you can do it yourself - but it ain't that easy. 

Firstly, it's about your son or daughter - no one seems to consider how MASSIVE this is. You are not simply fighting for the sake of fighting. Unfortunately, I have witnessed some professionals doing it for the 'win' rather than for the sake of the child, and this is terrifying to see. 

This adds humongous amounts of pressure. It feels like all or nothing. You keep thinking about the 'what ifs'. What if the tribunal do not see your side of things? What if they do not recognise the absolute torture you have been through? What if they turn a blind eye to all those missed deadlines, lack of support  (legal duties being breached), lack of assessments since the time your child was diagnosed.... the list goes on and on and on....

And what about those emails you received via the SAR, which speculate that you're just a fussy parent? A 'problem' parent in some cases? 

It is torment after torment, and no one seems to get it. Now the whole of your child's world is on your shoulders and all you want to do is curl up in to a ball and cry. 

It is ok to cry. But you should not have to. The system should not make you feel so small that you have no where to turn. Unfortunately many cases I work with have made families feel like this. 

But apparently, the system says you can do it by yourself, without legal representation (or any representation)......

Even if you are faced against barristers that the LA has employed..... 

.......Even though the tribunal system is manually handled, and results in hours upon hours which amounts to days and weeks of your time, and you have a full-time job - you can do it apparently!

For some you simply do not have a choice other than to do it yourself. You don't have the budget, or you know that you'll need to save it for another 'battle' next year. Perhaps you have more than one child with SEN. It would be unfair to blow it all on one child but what are you meant to do?.... The decisions you have to make are like no other and no one else can possibly understand.

The situation is dire, there's no other way to put it. I would like to present things in a more positive light, but that would be misleading. 

So how do we deal with such a dire system? What Bright Futures do, is educate and empower. So, although we can not change how things currently operate, we can try to support and give you that bit of top-up fuelling you need to continue and carry on. We are a friend at the end of the phone; we are the tenacity and the strength you need to remember why you are doing it; we are the stability you need in a significantly unstable time.

BUT, we are not gods. We can not change the system, and sometimes we can not even predict what is going to happen. We do not sell ourselves on 'winning'. And that is not because we are not 'successful'! Its because Bright Futures does not get its 'kick' out of simply 'winning', we get our 'kick out of doing good and having a positive impact in a number of ways (from lifting the stress of the process, to changing a child's life). Ultimately, we are about being a human in an alien and dehumanising system; we are about supporting you to achieve the best possible outcomes for your child; we are about determination, drive and strength when you feel like you are going to sink. We are about knowledge, experience and expertise. We are about personality, positivity and kindness.

We are devoted. We carry your little'uns' worlds on our shoulders with such care, pride and responsibility. We take it all so seriously it consumes us. Our values are so so important to us, and our business would not exist without them. We have set up Bright Futures in order to use the majority of our waking time, to have an impact. We hope you feel it. And we hope that together with empowering, educating and emotionally supporting one another, we can make a little difference. 

So, in our plea to expand our services to reach more people that are representing themselves through a complex and emotionally-draining process, we have some webinars on offer. 

We hope they help, All the best, Ruth and the Bright Futures Team 

Bright Futures accreditation for SEN professionals

Bright Futures

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We are really really excited to announce that we are now offering an accreditation scheme for all the professionals out there that offer EHCP reports to families. 

What it means for you:

1) Your reports will be quality assured in relation to the Code of Practice, by the Bright Futures Team

2) If you need the criteria for the accreditation, you will have a profile on Bright Futures’ website. We work with over 300 families each year who need excellent reports and understanding professionals, with superb knowledge of EHCPs, tribunals and Code of Practice.

3) You can use your accreditation  ‘gold star’ label when you talk to families, on your website and on your letter heads! Let families know that you have achieved the ‘Gold Star’, and are therefore an accredited professional that they can rely on. My families only use the professionals quality assured by Bright Futures. The Gold Star accreditation will assure families

4) Your details will be included in recommendations when reports are needed

5) You will have monthly access to newsletters with key legislation updates via Bright Futures

6) You will have 50% discount on professional webinars and 1:1 bespoke coaching sessions

7) You will have free access to the annual Bright Futures professional conference

The above package of accreditation is currently worth £550 for 1 year membership. Email now for discounted rate of £300 for 1 year! £50 payable on submission of application.Hello@brightfuturesconsultants.co.uk

Watch this space! Applications will launch officially on 9th May 2018. There will be limited spaces available so get your applications in. We will announce our ‘gold stars’ on 1st June 2018!

we are so excited for you to be part of the Bright Futures community! Good luck! 

5 top tips on being a good 'Expert Witness' for families

Bright Futures

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1) Stay true to your own professional judgement but do not be afraid to raise concerns 

It is so important that you stay true to your own professional opinion and know what you are stating and why you are making such statements. Your views and opinions could be quoted in future tribunal orders, and decisions will be based upon any evidence you give in the SEN tribunal. If you do not feel that others have used their professional judgement appropriately, speak to the family/representative, or when the time is right, raise this with the Judge.

2) Make sure you understand all of the Tribunal Rules

There are so many things to know that sometimes only experience can tell. However, some things to know are how to address the Judge, when it is necessary to speak, how to cross-examine the other party's expert witnesses, what a submission and the importance of deadlines.

3) Understand your obligation to the first-tier tribunal as a professional expert witness

Any evidence you submit to the family is bound by a Statement of Truth, which you must also submit at the end of your report. Any statement you make in the hearing itself is deemed as verbal/oral evidence, and may be written down by the SEN tribunal judge and later used to make a decision.

4) Know your own report inside out

Sometimes when you are thinking about everything else, it is easy to forget what you actually wrote! You may be asked to refer to key parts of your report, so make sure you know what your recommendations are, and also where to find them in the 'bundle'. Make sure you ask the family or their representative for the full 'bundle'. This could contain information that you may be asked to comment upon, within your professional opinion.

5) Know how EHCPs should be written!

The Code of Practice and subsequent Case Law is available online for you to research and familiarise yourself with. Your report will be supporting either need or provision within an EHCP so it is really important that you know which bits of the Code of Practice you are adhering to. It may be that certain wording in your report amounts to certain decisions being made on the day. It can seem little, but it can have a massive impact.

If you need to find out more, sign up to our new training webinar here!