Tribunal support service volunteer

IPSEA offers free, independent legally based information, advice and support to help get the right education for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). One in five school pupils has SEND and thousands of these pupils are struggling to fulfil their educational potential.  We are the only charity providing this service across all SEND issues in England, working to empower parents to challenge their local authorities.

Our tribunal support service volunteers provide individual casework support for tribunal appeals on behalf of children and young people with SEND.  No specific qualifications or experience is necessary as full training and support will be given.  However, a genuine concern for helping get the right education for children with special educational needs and disabilities is essential.

If you can give us around 16 hours each month and want to do something beneficial and interesting in your free time – this could be exactly what you’re looking for!

If you would like to join IPSEA as a volunteer, please download our application pack:

Application Form

Volunteer Agreement

Job Description

Contact Jo Voce, Volunteer Manager for more details:

Email: jvoce@ipsea.org.uk

When and where?

We hope volunteers can give at least 16 hours each month supporting parents and young people with their appeals.  You will negotiate when you give this time with each family so it can fit in with existing commitments.  And if you can give us more time – it is always welcomed, especially if you are able to represent the family at the tribunal which usually take place Monday to Friday.   

Our tribunal support service volunteers usually support families in their local region. 

What?

Volunteers agree to provide case work support to a particular family and you will give advice and empower them to prepare for the tribunal.  This could include:

  • Giving general advice on the Tribunal and its procedures
  • Helping with completion of the notice of appeal form
  • Assisting with setting out the reasons for appeal
  • Assessing evidence to be submitted in support of the appeal
  • Obtaining further evidence as required
  • Advising on suitability of witnesses
  • Negotiating & mediating with the local authority
  • Providing advocacy where needed

You will need to keep a detailed case log and liaise with the Legal Team if you have any questions or concerns.    

You will need to keep in regular contact with IPSEA so we know when you are available to volunteer and commit to ongoing support, supervision and development.

Could this be you?

We are looking for committed people who:

  • Can give at least 16 hours each month to volunteer for the next two years
  • Have a genuine concern for helping get the right education for children with special educational needs and disabilities. 
  • Are a good listener, empathetic non-judgemental
  • Have good communication skills
  • Are organised
  • Can offer parents and young people information, advice and support
  • Are receptive to feedback, learning and continuous improvement
  • Understand the importance of empowering callers to make their own decisions
  • Can explain the complex legal procedures involved in obtaining educational provision for a child with special educational needs
  • Are willing to learn IT skills to work effectively online
  • Can maintain confidentiality within IPSEA.
  • Can volunteer within IPSEA’s policies and procedures
  • Can commit to ongoing training and development

We are looking for the following skills and experience

Essential

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills
  • IT literate
  • Ability to undertake comprehensive SEND legal framework training and put into practice
  • Ability to commit to a minimum of 2 years and on average, 4 hours each week ( please see the volunteer agreement for terms and conditions) 

Desirable

  • Previous experience /knowledge of SEND issues
  • Previous case work experience

What can you expect from us?

You can expect from us the opportunity for training and development on a personal level.  Before volunteering on the advice line you will need to complete our comprehensive three stage training – see below for more details.  You will then have access to our ongoing training and online library of resources. 

Stage one – online modules

The volunteer e-learning consists of ten modules. Each module has a learning text for you to download, read and digest.  At the end of each module there are a series of questions which you will test your knowledge. 

The modules systematically build knowledge of the relevant area of law which you will need to know when advising parents.  Once you have completed all the modules you need to submit them – there is a pass mark of 80%. If you fail to reach 80%, you have an opportunity to retake.

You will need to have access to a computer and the internet and allow around three hours for each modules.  We will give you seven weeks to complete the modules and we will be in regular contact to see how you are getting on and clarify any questions you may have.

Stage two - written assessment

Once you have completed and passed our online training, you will then be asked to complete a short written exercise to demonstrate that you can apply the knowledge that you have gained from your online study.  

Stage three – two day face to face training

The training will consolidate the knowledge you will have gained and help you apply that knowledge. The training will be interactive and include scenarios and case studies for managing cases. You will need to attend both days.  We will of course reimburse any reasonable travel expenses – further details will be sent with your invite to the training. 

Finally, you will have the opportunity to make a real difference to children and young people ensuring they get the right education. 

What next?

If you would like to join IPSEA as a volunteer, please download our application pack:

Application Form

Volunteer Agreement

Job Description

Contact Jo Voce, Volunteer Manager for more details:

Email: jvoce@ipsea.org.uk

“I volunteer with the Tribunal Support Service to empower parents to advocate for their children.  It’s satisfying and fulfilling to know you are potentially changing lives.”

IPSEA mailing list

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IPSEA training

IPSEA provides a wide range of SEN training for Parents, School Staff, Parent Forums, Support Groups, Local Authority SEN teams, Parent Partnership Schemes, School Governors and other groups / organisations. Click here for details.

Advice Line

This provides next step advice on: problems with schools, requesting statutory assessment, statements and Education, Health and Care Plans, annual reviews, disability discrimination and exclusion. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.

Tribunal Helpline

Our Tribunal Helpline Gives next step advice on SEN appeals and disability discrimination claims to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. When you call we will also assess whether you need casework support. Please click here to book an appointment to get one of our advisers to call you back.

Information Service

The Information Service is for general legal enquiries and will signpost you to factsheets and resources on our website.  The Information Service cannot provide specific advice about individuals and their circumstances.

Face to Face Advice

IPSEA is now able to offer free and independent legally based SEN advice at Face to Face sessions organised in conjunction with the Pen Green Centre for children and families (pengreen.org).

For information on how to book a session please click here.