Meet the speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and insight at our 2024 conference.
Ali is the Chief Executive of IPSEA, a charity that provides free, independent, legally-based advice and support to families of children with special educational needs and/or a disability. Ali is a qualified solicitor with extensive casework and policy experience in the fields of education, community care, mental health and public law. She has spent many years working in the not-for-profit sector, including as Head of Legal at Mind, Assistant Director of Legal Services at NYAS and Deputy Practice Manager at the Children’s Legal Centre.
Sarah has expertise in the practice of Education Law and represents a wide range of clients including local authorities, parents, schools, higher education institutions, the Schools Adjudicator, Ofsted, the Education Funding Agency, and the Secretary of State for Education. She is the author (with Aileen McColgan and Elizabeth Prochaska) of Special Educational Needs and the Law (LAG, 2017) and wrote the chapter on Special Educational Needs in Richard McManus QC, Education and the Courts (Jordan’s, 2012).
Jane was appointed as a full-time salaried judge in the HESC Chamber in June 2015. She is the lead judge responsible for SEND. She was called to the Bar in 2006. Since 2001 Jane has been involved in the work of the SEND Tribunal first as a volunteer advocate and then a caseworker for the charity IPSEA. From 2008 she was the Chief Executive of the charity and was heavily involved in the development of the current SEND legal framework. In 2009 she was a professional advisor to the Lamb Enquiry which considered parental confidence in the SEN system. Other areas of her experience include disability discrimination, exclusion, school admissions, Upper Tribunal appeals and supporting High Court appeals. In 2015 Jane was awarded an MBE for services to education.
Douglas has practised SEN law for over 25 years. He is widely respected in this field, winning numerous awards during this time, including: ‘SEN Law Firm Of The Year’, ‘Education Law Firm/Lawyer of the Year’ (both in England/the UK), ‘Outstanding Achievement’ and ‘Niche Law Firm of the Year’ and has also been shortlisted twice by the Law Society for its prestigious award of ‘Solicitor of the Year (Private Practice)’. Douglas’ website at www.SpecialEducationalNeeds.co.uk is a very popular resource for both parents and professionals.
Roisin’s practice covers all areas of education law. She has a particular interest in proceedings before the SEND Tribunal and has significant experience providing advice and assisting parents, carers and young people with their appeals. Roisin often deals with complex extended appeals and appeals where placement is in dispute; she also has experience of review hearings. With her substantial discrimination law expertise, Roisin is developing a strong disability discrimination practice in the SEND Tribunal and, in respect of higher education, the County Court. Roisin routinely acts in successful challenges to Local Authority failures to comply with s.42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and s.19 of the Education Act 1996 by way of judicial review.
David Wolfe works as a public lawyer at Matrix. He has been involved in SEN disputes since 1989, chairing SEN appeal panels even before the SEN Tribunal was invented. From 2002-2008, he was a part-time Chair of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. David has extensive experience in SEN law and regularly acts for NGOs, parents and children in relation to education law. He is the originator and co-author of the “Noddy Guide to SEN Law” now easily accessed via the supportsendkids.org web site.
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