Other places to find help
- If you are moving to another local authority, find your nearest SENDIAS service.
- Free, national sources of information, advice and support for families with children and young people with SEND: SENDIOG Information Sheet
- IPSEA advice line - appointment based telephone helpline for parents, carers and family members of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), and for young people with SEND
- IPSEA call-in helpline - free call-in helpline every Friday providing legally-based advice and support for parents, carers and family members of children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), and for young people with SEND
- Citizens Advice Bureau - CAB - for support on any matter, not just SEND. CAB provides confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free
What to consider when looking for legal help
Free (Pro bono) legal help
Bucks SENDIAS advisers are trained in SEND law by IPSEA. We are not legally qualified. We use a case management approach to decide who we can help and how.
This may include:
- help with forms
- advice about the process
- advice about the appeal or dispute
- support at a tribunal hearing
Any help we give will be time-limited and subject to delays relating to demand for our service. For tribunal help from a SENDIAS adviser please request this using our contact form and refer to our Tribunals Policy.
IPSEA tribunal helpline: tribunal helpline
Online booking is required. The helpline provides next step advice on appeals
IPSEA tribunal support: Free and specialist support throughout the preparation for the hearing and representation at the hearing. This can only be accessed by referral after booking an appointment on IPSEA's tribunal helpline. It is reserved for parents who meet IPSEA's eligibility criteria
SOS!SEN Free, confidential telephone helpline
NDCS Tribunal Appeals Team - SEN and disability disputes - The NDCS tribunal appeals team support families wanting to appeal about decisions relating to a child with a hearing impairment. The team provides help throughout the tribunal process, including representation where necessary.
Legal Aid: The Legal Aid scheme provides free 'legal help' from for a specialist SEN solicitors’ firm to advise and assist you with your SEND tribunal case. It does not fund the costs of representation at SEND tribunal hearings.
- Work out if you may qualify for Legal Aid on financial grounds using this online calculator.
- If you believe you may qualify, contact Civil Legal Advice Civil Legal Advice will decide whether you are eligible for Legal Aid.
- If you are eligible for Legal Aid, CLA will allocate you to a specialist education legal advisor.
For more information on Legal Aid see Child Law Advice – fact sheet about legal aid
Free representation by a barrister through Advocate: Advocate - apply for help (formerly Bar Pro Bono Unit).
You can make your own referral.
You will not be eligible for this scheme if you:
- have a deadline less than three weeks away
- qualify for legal aid (see the website for more information)
- can afford the legal help you need
- have legal expenses insurance covering the problem you need help with
Even if you are eligible, you may not get help - barristers volunteer for Advocate and there are not always enough available.
Paid for legal help
A solicitor will advise and help with your paperwork. Solicitors are usually employed in a law firm. For representation at the Tribunal hearing you may need a barrister. 'Direct access barristers' can help with paperwork and represent at hearings. Barristers are self-employed and usually work together in offices called chambers.
SEND law is a very specialised area of law. If you want to use a solicitor or barrister, make sure they are specialists in SEN law.
If you are paying for a solicitor or barrister, there are significant costs associated with advice on evidence, preparation of documents and attendance at the Tribunal.
Finding a solicitor
- Type 'SEN solicitor' into your browser.
- Then use this search page to check that solicitors you find are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Choose ‘Education’ from the drop down menu on ‘Area of Practice’: Law Society - Find a Solicitor
Finding a barrister:
- Type 'SEN barrister' into your browser.
- Use this search page to check that the barristers you find are allowed to practise as a barrister.
Direct Access Barristers
Find a direct access barrister to obtain legal advice or to help you with any aspect of your legal case including representing you in court hearings. This can be cheaper than paying for a solicitor and a barrister separately: Direct Access Portal - Find a Barrister
Bucks SEND IAS Service cannot recommend any legal services.