Hackney seeks meeting of minds on children’s rights

Hackney Learning Trust head of law and company secretary Tom Lewis-Brooke has proposed a multidisciplinary initiative to head off judicial reviews of decisions over children’s services.

The proposal could see Lewis-Brooke joining Doreen Forrester-Brown, principal lawyer for children and community services at the London Borough of Hackney, and the heads of Hackney’s education special needs, health and social care staff, in a regular plenum in a move to coordinate awareness of children’s rights issues among members.

The group is also intended to facilitate mediation between members and parents or guardians protesting at decisions over school places, care arrangements and other children’s rights issues.

Lewis-Brooke said: “There is a growing awareness among parents and carers that they have a right to have all needs related to their family and children looked at.

“The point is to ensure that, legally, we approach children’s rights issues that overlap education and social care in a joined-up way.”

The idea has been welcomed by Forrester-Brown, who suggested that the group could be widened to include voluntary sector groups, the police and even private practice solicitors.

She said: “Voluntary sector groups would be able to help members to conduct assessments, while private practice could benefit from a greater understanding of the way local authorities work.”