The initial statement

As stressful as the tribunal is, it is also very procedural. It normally starts with the Judge introducing herself/himself and then layout the ground rules for the tribunal. Regardless of if you are being represented or representing yourself at the tribunal, after the introductions, you’ll be given a chance to speak and make a parental statement. There are no hard and fast rules about it. You can write your statement before hand and read it of a piece of paper, or say it impromptu. Both is fine. Also, remember it is ok to be emotional. Everyone in the room understands that fact. So don’t be too worried about tears as this is natural.

It is advised to keep it around 3 to 5 minutes and definitely no longer than 10. This is in the interest of tribunal time but also people seem to loose interest if the speech becomes too long. It was advised to me to keep it small and punchy.

While I’ve only ever been to a single tribunal (ours), thus not in a great position to guide others, I think it may be OK to have something here that is better than nothing. So I’ll say here what I did and you can follow our do it your way.

I initially wrote the whole statement in word and then printed it out. However that tribunal was adjourned and too many things changed for the next tribunal date. So when it came to doing it again, I decided to write down some points on a piece of paper and so as to not forget what I was going to say and also to keep on point and try not to say too much and take everyone’s and tribunal’s time. The tribunal has a fixed time allocation, if too much time is wasted it can result in an adjournment, which normally is in no ones favour.

I did rehearse it a few times but in my view I complexly blew it up at the tribunal. However, because I had the list, I did touch upon all the points, just they may not have come across as punchy as I wanted them to be. But that is life and I struggle with public speaking generally , so that is that.

  1. Started with the child’s year of birth, age now.
  2. Spoke about the child’s nature, that she’s gorgeous and calm child and how much we love her
  3. Spoke about early child hood before diagnosis. The issues and significant needs.
  4. The diagnosis date.
  5. What we tried after diagnosis
  6. What the school and local authority tried
  7. What was effective , what worked and what did not
  8. How the child has progresses over the period
  9. What we think is important for the child to be supported and to make progress.
  10. Why the LA don’t agree with us
  11. Why we are here at the tribunal (the main points to discuss)
  12. And thank the tribunal to give us a chance to speak and be heard. And that we hope that a just decision will be given.

Ending statement

I was much less prepared for this. It came out of no where, and towards the end we were asked if we wanted to say something.

We had made some points about some inaccuracies that the LA witnesses had said during the tribunal. We pointed these out. Then thanked the tribunal once again, and told them that we felt heard and that it was conducted in a fair way and everyone was given equal chance to contribute (we said that because we had a bad experience in an earlier hearing).

The further ending statement was made by our advocate in writing so that is matter for another blog.

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