3. Deciding whether to request an SEN expert at the review

Families may request, at the time they request an IRP, that an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. attend. An SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. must be engaged to attend at the expense of the local authority A borough, county or city council that has responsibility for providing education to children in their area. , or the school if it is an academy.

SEN experts can answer questions from all parties at the hearing. They cannot say what they think the school should have done in the circumstances.

Having an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion.  at the hearing can be helpful in certain circumstances but it won’t always be appropriate, even where there are relevant SEN issues in the family’s arguments.

An SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. may be a SENCO from another school. All parties at the hearing can ask questions of them. They must be independent of the parties in the case.

It should be the decision of the parent or guardian to request an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. . However, it would be useful to make them aware of the following factors for and against.

For

  • The expert may be able to answer questions the family has and provide some closure to disputes with the school.
  • The experts are free to request.
  • If you have no expert it may be more difficult to argue that SEN is relevant to your case because the IRP panelists may question why you have not asked for an expert to be present.

Against

  • You won't know whether the expert will be supportive of your arguments before the hearing, so you may find them undermining the points you are trying to rely on.
  • The expert is not guaranteed to have a good understanding of the particular needs of the young person you are supporting and so their comments may not provide clarity.
  • There are more reliable alternative options that may be available.

Where you are able to get your supportive evidence on SEN issues from an alternative source, that will likely result in a stronger challenge.

For example, if the young person you are working with has autism, and you want to show that the behaviours they were excluded for are linked to their autism, it would be better to get evidence from a clinician or other professional working with them, either in the form of a statement or by asking them to attend the meeting. This is preferable because it means you know what is going to be said in advance, and you have the benefit of an opinion based on a more in-depth and specific knowledge of the young person’s needs.

It will likely be to the family's benefit to exhaust as many of these options as you can before asking for an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. to attend the panel. You can seek your own supportive SEN evidence and consider an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. appointed by the panel in three steps:

  1. Review the above lists of factors and provide information to the family you are supporting on their options. Consider using the Suggested Text: Providing Information to the Family on Requesting an SEN Expert for the IRP;
  2. Identify any alternative sources of SEN evidence and contact the source to ask them to provide a statement or attend the meeting. Consider using the Suggested Text: Asking an Independent Professional to Support a Case at IRP;
  3. If you are requesting an SEN expert A person appointed by an IRP to provide expert advice to the panel on SEN issues relevant to the exclusion. to attend a panel, include this request in your application for an IRP which is covered in detail in the next step.

Once you have requested support from relevant independent professionals, or the family have decided whether to request an expert, continue to the next step.

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