SEND Advocacy, as the name suggests, is advocacy centred around SEND law, policy and practice. SEND stands for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. It is used to refer to children and young people who learn differently and who require additional support in order to access and/or progress in education.
There are four main areas of SEN = Cognition & Learning, Communication and Interaction, Social, Emotional and Mental Health and Sensory and Physical. These are likely to be familiar to you if your child has an EHCP (Education and Health Care Plan) as they are covered in sections B and F.
Examples of what is covered by this term include neurodivergence such as autism and ADHD; spLD like dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia; physical and learning disabilities and mental health difficulties such as depression. It is a deliberately wide and encompassing definition and does not require a child or young person to have a diagnosis of any kind.
Advocacy is a specific type of communication, one that’s purpose is to put across a particular point of view or perspective with the aim of influencing the listener to behave a certain way in response.
In the context of SEND it’s largely about standing up for the educational rights of children and young people. At SEND Advocacy we believe that the role of a SEND advocate is to support and empower people to obtain the right education for their child or young person and the education that is their child or young person’s right. Specifically, it involves:
Listening – an advocate should listen and really hear what you are saying so that they fully understand your particular situation and what you want to achieve
Explaining – an advocate should be knowledgable about the relevant law, policy and practice and be able to clearly explain how it relates to your specific situation and explore with you the various options open to you
Advising – an advocate should advise you on the best course of action, bearing in mind what you want to achieve, the resources you have and the relevant law and policy. Sometimes this means being the bearer of bad, or at least less than, brilliant, news.
Presenting and Promoting – an advocate should present your case in the most persuasive way possible, whether in written or spoken form, to the relevant decision makers. These can include local authority caseworkers; education and health professionals and of course Tribunal judges and members. Throughout this the advocate must clearly and accurately puts across your own thoughts, views and wishes; not theirs.
If you feel that your child or young person has SEND but that they are not getting the support they require we can help, by for example ensuring that they are on the school or college SEN register, and that the setting is using best endeavours to support them. We offer a complete service from preparing a request for an EHCNA to appearing at a contested tribunal hearing, and everything in between. If you need someone in you corner to help you secure the education your child deserves, contact us today.