"The hope you give parents is nothing short of a miracle"
"Our daughter is 17 years old..."
"Our daughter is 17 years old. At the age of two she was diagnosed with a rare chromosomal disorder called Angelman’s Syndrome. With this condition she has profound physical and mental difficulties and suffers with epilepsy which is partially controlled by medication. She has severe learning difficulties and is incontinent at night.
Our daughter attended the local primary school up to the age of 11 with a Statement from our LEA. At the time of choosing her next school, we felt she would be better suited to a particular senior school to accommodate her special needs. The LA were not prepared to accommodate any of our requests. We then had no alternative but to appeal to an Educational Tribunal. The purpose, as we understood it, was to discuss and implement what was best for our daughter. However we found that we were ill equipped for the Tribunal and we did not know our daughter’s rights and were forced into sending her to a school they recommended, against our better judgement.
We accepted this school and the new term started off well. There was good input from her teacher and extra support with OT, physio and speech and language therapies. Things were not to stay that way as there numerous changes in the staff and disruption to our daughter’s comfort and progress.
In her third year the extra support and therapy ended as we were told our daughter was not reaching her targets as a consequence she regressed. We tried to obtain a revised Statement from the LA but were fobbed off and hence were unsuccessful.
We felt that it was time to take action. Our daughter’s behaviour at home was at an all time low and the pressure upon our family was unbearable. Our daughter was now 14 years old and needed the right residential school, so we decided to take the advice of a solicitor. Unfortunately, with hindsight we had gone to the wrong person and we wasted six months and a considerable sum of money for poor advice.
Fortunately, the one piece of good advice we received was to find an Educational Psychologist, which we did. They in turn suggested that we needed a solicitor who specialised in this difficult area of SEN. We were recommended to Douglas Silas.
From the minute I phoned Douglas Silas Solicitors I knew we had found the right people. Erica was my first point of contact and she was amazing. She asked numerous questions and fully understood what we were going through. She explained in detail what would be involved if Douglas were to take on our case and explained clearly the process. We knew we had found the right man and were ready to challenge the LEA.
We were very impressed by the efficiency and knowledge shown by Douglas and all of his team. Douglas led the meetings with clarity, asked all the right questions and always focused on what we needed to achieve. Throughout this difficult process he was caring, kind and never lost sight of our goals.
Our daughter needed a new Statement at Post 16 from September 2010 but we had to threaten the LA with Judicial Review in the Spring of 2010 before finally getting a Statement which we could appeal against in July/August 2010; (it should have been issued by 15 February and even when it did come eventually in July it did not name a school and needed to be reissued!)
Even though we then won a 'type' of placement we ran out of time to give evidence about our preferred school on the day. As the LA raised objections we had to go to yet another one day hearing in May 2011. The LA also informed us during this time that they were going to try and appeal against the first decision which meant going back to Tribunal and updating our reports and visiting the school they wanted us to consider for our daughter.
The LA did not make things easy but Douglas’s advice throughout gave us the confidence to continue the fight. We had numerous setbacks and were devastated but with our inner strength and support from Douglas and his team, we got through. During this time we were also in the process of looking at a suitable residential school as another Educational Psychologist (recommended by Douglas) felt the school we had in mind was inappropriate for our daughter.
Douglas was our rock during our second Tribunal. He stayed focused by getting into the heart of the issue and proved the key points to the Judge. 10 days later we heard we had won the case and, at last, our daughter was on her way to the right residential school for her!
Again, we got through these difficult few weeks with the help and expertise of Douglas and his team. Together with his calm approach, his genius letter writing amongst many other fine qualities, we won the appeal and now our daughter was definitely going to the school we had chosen.
We have been through a rollercoaster of events let alone emotions. We learned so much during this process and inevitably the experience has had a huge impact on our family life.
We knew where we stood throughout the whole process with Douglas Silas Solicitors. The whole team were prepared at every stage and were fighting with us. They empathised with us and they gave us courage of their convictions. If Douglas Silas Solicitors couldn’t win our case, no one was going to.
What a unique and brilliant firm we were lucky to find in Douglas Silas."
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