• Caroline Barrett

  • Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP

  • Partner
  • England

  • Rewards 87

I am a Partner at Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP, specialising in public law and human rights, but with a particular emphasis on disability rights. This includes education law, mental capacity, EHCPs, appeals to the First Tier Tribunal, and community care law. My profile can be found here -

Questions [0]

Questions they have asked

Answers [4]

Questions they have answered

  • We have EOTAS following tribunal, with provision specified in section F. It is now five weeks since we received the tribunal order and the provision ...

    ... is not in place - ie we haven't received the personal budget. We have received a pb contract, but it doesn't include all the provision in section F. Some of which is really clear (eg 38 weeks instead of 39) and some I think the LA would consider open to interpretation, though seems pretty clear to me. I don't want to sign a contract that isn't correct, but I do need the money ASAP to pay the providers. Is my best option just an official complaint? Is there any wording to quote to potentially speed things up? Thank you

    S R

    24 Aug 2022

  • If an error in law is made, can social care decisions be challenged at UTT? Would this be considered an error?

    LA have an autism plus policy to access the Children with Disabilities team (Level 3). Although the published policy states that children at Level 2 can receive direct payments/short breaks in practice, they can't.

    We submitted as evidence the LA response to stage one complaint, which specifically states, "Direct payments is a specialist service that are only available to children who meet the criteria for the children with disabilities team. This is also true of other specialist short break services". In that letter, it also sets out the reason the threshold for CWD is not met as he doesn't have a severe learning disability + Autism. The LA offered an Early Help Assessment. and referred to the Local Offer and the HAF programme as the recommended provision.

    This was written by the manager of the CWD team who was the LA witness at the hearing. The appeal was BFI + Social Care but section I was already conceded and he attends a s41 specialist. The LA did not submit any information regarding the social care element of the appeal until five days before when they added this witness and her statement.

    I presumed that the purpose of including social care as an extended appeal was so needs and provisions would go into the EHCP, and if LA and I disagreed, the tribunal would make recommendations. Once it became clear that the LA was not responding to that element, I wasn't sure what recommendations the Judge could make.

    During the hearing, my position was that the outcome of the Early Help Assessment was already pre-determined. That provision must be based on needs and not which team the child is with. I referenced the Liverpool LGO decision regarding what seems to be an identical practice. I wanted a recommendation for a children's and families assessment.

    The Judge said that he would be recommending an Early Help Assessment because the LA is within its rights to apply a policy that children work through the stages starting at level 1. He said that the practice of short breaks/direct payments only being available to children with CWD was a 'miscommunication' even though the witness did not say at any point that children at stage 2 could also be eligible for short breaks.

    Would this be classed as an error? Or have I misunderstood? I am thinking now the LGO would have been a better route, but I am presuming that will not be possible now as it's been to SENDIST.

    ER H

    07 Dec 2023

  • What is the best evidence to support a residential placement for further education (19-25?)

    My daughter is 18 and would like to go to university, but this is out of reach as her learning disabilities prevent her from achieving GCSEs let alone A-levels. She is very frustrated and unhappy about being left behind by her peers/ siblings and this causes daily friction at home as she feels - in her own words - 'isolated'. She is very independent in some ways, e.g. having received intensive travel training she navigates London transport easily. However, she is emotionally extremely vulnerable, quite lonely and easily manipulated by anyone who offers friendship. We have already had to step in on two occasions with interventions from CAMHS and her school to prevent this, and can see the seriousness of these incidents escalating as she matures. We are concerned about her safety, her mental health and her ability to progress in education and independence.

    We would like her to attend a residential college so that:
    - she can make friends who are on her level, whilst learning to distinguish between genuine friendship and exploitation in a safe environment
    - she is expected to work full time on practical, vocational skills with the appropriate level of support, repetition and consistency to become truly employable
    - she can learn to manage her own finances, laundry, shopping, cooking through a waking day curriculum
    We see this as an important stepping stone towards independent living, as she can master new skills but only with intensive training and support.

    The local offer would be a part time course within a large mainstream college and she would not be safe there, especially when so much of her week would be unaccounted for while the family is at work and school. There are specialist colleges nearby which would be safer, but only for the 3 days a week that they offer, leaving her at a loose end the rest of the time. In addition, the curriculum at these colleges is very similar to her post-16 'employability' course at her current school, so she wouldn't be progressing much or learning how to work full-time in a practical job, unlike the residential colleges which have indicated that they could meet her needs.

    I have asked CAMHS if they can write a letter to support our argument that a residential placement is necessary but they are reluctant to do so, despite having documented one intervention earlier this year which specifically references her 'friend' persuading her to steal on her behalf. Here is what they said: "I have been advised that we have to leave the Local Authority to make the decision without any input from CAMHS. They have explained that they are responsible for the plans, and we only confuse things by getting involved"

    Surely we need input from experts close to her, and CAMHS are our only port of call here? My only other entry point is a social care referral and I have made a request but it seems to have gone into a black hole with the local authority.

    Emily Foges
    Support SEND Kids

    12 Oct 2023

  • Is it legal for the LA to enrol my child in a school without my knowledge ?

    I am going to tribunal to appeal most of my son’s EHCP including the school named by the LA in section I.

    He was on roll at a primary school till the end of year six but hasn’t attended for four years.

    I’ve just found out by chance (I wasn’t notified of this by the school or the LA), that my son has been put on roll at the school named by the LA.

    My son and I have been very clear that there is no intention or expectation from us that he would be able to attend this school as it can’t meet his needs and is completely unsuitable.

    I’m concerned that the school may be receiving funding whilst my son is receiving no education from the LA.

    Also, I’ve been told that if a child is on roll at a special school (which this school is), the parent had to ask permission if they wish to deregister to EHE.

    Thank you