I am a Solicitor and Head of Education Law at Shoosmiths. I have specialised in education law, particularly special educational needs law since 2008. I work for parents and young people with a range of special educational needs and disabilities including brain injuries, spinal injuries, autism, cerebral palsy, visual difficulties, learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia, genetic disorders, down syndrome and hearing difficulties. I have clients in the entire age range from babies up to 25 year olds.
I work with parents, carers and young people to secure the best possible provision and educational placements for them, which can include bespoke packages of support as well as school or college placements. I have been successful in securing placements for children and young people at a range of schools and colleges, including independent and non-maintained special schools and colleges and residential placements. Some of these have been dually funded or tri-partite funded by education, health and social care.
I advise throughout the legal process to secure an Education, Health and Care Plan. This includes requesting Education, Health and Care Needs Assessments, assisting parents and carers with their parental submission as part of this assessment, advising on draft Education, Health and Care Plans, parental comments to the Local Authority on this draft and advice on the final Education, Health and Care Plan. I assist in ensuring the content of these plans is correct.
I am routinely instructed to advise on and assist when Education, Health and Care Plans are not right and require challenges to be made to them, via negotiation, mediation and/or appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.
I am regularly invited to speak at conferences and to deliver workshops/seminars on special educational needs law issues, including for parent groups, charities, independent schools and colleges and parent carer forums. The department also runs a series of workshops in our offices for both parents and professionals.
I often received referrals from fellow solicitors, experts and case managers and welcome the opportunity to speak to anybody who has a potential case they wish to discuss.