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Douglas Silas Solicitors is known for its specialism in advising on special educational needs (SEN). Founding director Douglas Silas has huge experience assisting the parents of children and young people with SEN and disabilities, particularly in more challenging cases, and frequently advises parents as their children move through the education system. Silas has notable expertise acting for children with autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, dyslexia and dyspraxia. He assists with the whole SEN process, from requesting an assessment through to appeals to the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal.

Doyle Clayton has 'a well-deserved reputation' in this area advising teachers, lecturers and professors. Practice head Simon Henthorn has a wealth of education-related knowledge and is 'knowledgeable, dedicated, enthusiastic and charming and is clever and full of ideas'. Together with senior associate Elizabeth Timmins, he is acting for Professor Peter Edwards in his challenge to a university's policy concerning compulsory retirement age, which is likely to have ramifications for other universities; the professor was  temporarily re-instated but an employment tribunal case is pending. The team is also acting for a number of higher education employees in a variety of unfair dismissal matters and the negotiation of complex employment contracts and is also acting for children who are non-UK residents who require special visas.  Anna Blackden joined the group from an in-house position.

The Irwin Mitchell team, which is 'of the highest calibre', acts for children and young people on special educational needs matters, discrimination issues and challenges to areas such as school transport policies, closures and re-organisations. It also handles judicial reviews of local authority decisions and policies. Examples of its work includes acting for the parents of a child with cerebral palsy and autism in respect to the child's transfer from a maintained school to a non-maintained one that could provide the relevant specialisms; the local authority has refused and an appeal has been filed. In other work, it is acting for a child with autism who was excluded from school on behavioral grounds - an appeal has been lodged with the Upper Tribunal challenging Regulation 4 of the Equality Act (Disability) Regulations arguing that schools should make allowances for children with autism. Team head Polly Sweeney, Steven Baylis and associate Caroline Barrett are 'particularly effective' in this field and Sarah Woosey is also a noted name.

Match Solicitors represents students in a range of cases involving matters such as exclusions and exam disputes and assists disabled children in need of specialist provision. The team handles appeals to the First Tier Tribunal but also settles many cases. It also acts for teachers in cases where there are allegations of misconduct. Practice head Anita Chopra and Nicole Henham  acted for a child who was excluded from an independent school, following an incident concerning substance abuse; the matter was successfully settled with the child withdrawn from the school rather than excluded. The team also successfully represented a retired teacher in a formal hearing pertaining to allegations of unacceptable professional conduct. Salima Mawji and associate Chris Barnett are other core team members.

Simpson Millar LLP has 'a real emphasis on the rights of children, in particular vulnerable children in care' and 'is a brilliant firm of very committed lawyers'. The education sector is a key area within the firm's focus on social welfare matters and it frequently acts for parents and young people in challenging local authorities in cases pertaining to the suitable provision of educational needs. Angela Jackman has broad public law expertise and is a key name for special educational needs. Dan Rosenberg has a strong focus on educational matters within his broader social care practice, especially acting for children from disadvantaged backgrounds who cannot access suitable education.

John Ford Solicitors - part of the Sinclairslaw group, which was formed in May 2018 following the merger of the two firms, 'deals with matters promptly, has in-depth knowledge and is passionate about SEND and the needs of young people with disabilities'. It has established expertise in acting for parents whose children have special education needs and provides advice and where necessary handles judicial reviews. Its work includes matters concerning school admissions and exclusions and also advises students in the higher education sector. Michael Charles is the national head of the firm and is 'an expert in SEN and knows exactly what he is doing' and John Ford is a well-known senior practitioner, particularly for his work on behalf of children with special needs and disabilities. The firm acted for a child with a number of learning difficulties and managed to avoid a tribunal hearing when the local authority was persuaded to allow the child a place at the school of choice.

At Russell-Cooke LLP, head of the children and education department Eva Akins 'has excellent knowledge and great empathy'. The team is acknowledged as 'excellent' for its specialism in assisting children with special education needs and disabilities. Its work encompasses challenges to exclusions, admissions decisions and assistance with funding issues for entry to independent schools. In recent work, Atkins advised the parents of a child with epilepsy and anxiety disorder whose place at an independent school was terminated when the parents requested that the child’s exam load be reduced; te school was found  by a tribunal to have breached the Equality Act. Samantha Little and Sarah Richardson are other senior members of the group.

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