Seven Students from Reading University Law School have just qualified as helpline advisers to parents with special educational needs problems on a training course run at the university by IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice). They are the first students at the Law School to have successfully undertaken this demanding training course which covers all aspects of special needs, including school exclusion, disability equality rights and disputes with local authorities over educational provision.
The training course is part of the Law School’s extensive pro bono programme which gives students important skills and experience that they will need for practice as lawyers, while at the same time answering the pressing need for volunteer legal advisers at a time when the legal aid budget has been slashed.
Reading is one of only three Law Schools in England and Wales that offers IPSEA training.
The cost has been met from generous donations made to the Law School by its Alumni. Following the success of last year’s intake, a further twelve students have just started their training and hope to qualify as telephone advisers next year.
Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University, responding to this news, congratulated all involved. IPSEA, he explained, plays a vital role in helping to advise parents of children with special educational needs. Having Reading Law students trained up to be telephone helpline advisers for IPSEA, he added, is an excellent initiative. Not only will the students concerned learn new skills; they will be applying their knowledge and expertise in a practical way which will be of great help to parents
On 16th November Dr Nick Roberts, School Director of Enterprise/Pro Bono, attended a CLEO workshop in Portsmouth University, as an invited speaker on a panel addressing Law Schools working with Citizens’ Advice Bureaux. It was a valuable opportunity to share experiences of this and other Pro Bono projects. From conversations with other delegates it was clear that the Reading Law School does indeed offer one of the widest range of Pro Bono activities of any Law School in England and Wales. Having this range of projects enables us to involve many more students than most universities which offer, for example, a dedicated Student Law Clinic: limitations on numbers generally mean that only a small number of students can then be involved.
The annual Pro Bono Fair held at Foxhill House on Wednesday 16th October attracted an even larger attendance than usual: judging by the application forms distributed, over 200 students came through the doors. Stallholders included outside organisations with which the Law School has a longstanding link, such as CAB, Resolve Mediation, and the British Red Cross; newer organisations such as the IPSEA (Independent Parental Special Education Advice) Helpline, Victim Support, and Amicus; our own Streetlaw and Access to Law; and student organisations which offer opportunities for voluntary work, such as Peer Support, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and Amnesty International. The University’s RED Award scheme also had a stall, to remind students that participation in any of these projects and organisations can be the basis of eligibility for a RED Award (Reading Experience and Development), which is noted on the student’s transcript. Stalls were kept busy until very near the closing time.
Thanks are due to all who contributed to the success of the event, especially to students who staffed stalls, and to the team from the Student Law Society who set up the rooms and restored them to order!
The 6th annual School of Law & John Madejski Academy Streetlaw Debating Final was held here at Foxhill House on Weds 13th March 2013. The competition continues to be very well supported by the pupils at the school. It was a great evening of entertaining debating and the ‘freestyle’ approach to debating continues to develop! The preparation for the final and the previous rounds of the competition provided by the Streetlaw volunteers really shone through and the judges congratulated all the Streetlaw volunteers on the very high standard of the research and preparation for the competition.
The 6th annual School of Law & John Madejski Academy Streetlaw Debating Final