First, as an education officer who deals with special needs cases, can I say that the emotive nature of the issues involved is not only stressful for parents and families, but also those professionals who are trying to make a fair and appropriate provision for young people.
In Oxfordshire, we are lucky that the vast majority of our cases are concluded amicably and in partnership with parents. We do not actively seek to be represented by solicitors or barristers. Rather, it is when parents invoke legal representation, usually starting with a somewhat curt and uncompromising solicitors' letter, that we have to consider matching this to equal the odds.
With the ongoing development of "named persons" and voluntary sector advocacy support, I hope in future less money will be spent on legal fees and more on provision. Equally, where cases are being considered by the SEN tribunals, I believe more time should be spent looking at needs and appropriate ways of addressing these, than clever legalistic points scoring.
IAN PEARSON Divisional education officer Oxfordshire County Council Macclesfield House New Road Oxford