Over the past 2 weeks I’ve attended 3 online SEN Tribunals (2 parental funded and 1 legal aid funded) and I’ve made several changes to my work environment from #1 to #3:
- I’ve switched from WIFI to ‘plugged in’ as the connectivity is more reliable.
- I’ve bought a decent microphone / headphones combo; remembering to mute when I’m not giving evidence.
- I’ve made sure all the Tribunal bundle is printed and not digital as it’s so much easier to flick through.
- I’ve moved my desk so that the sunlight is behind it and there’s a blind to control the lighting in the room.
- I’ve made sure I’ve got a selection of (soft!) drinks within an arms length.
- I’ve locked the door (I’m in the Lodge) so my kids can’t enter the room ?.
- My laptop is now on a box so that it’s higher.
With the system the Tribunals service is using whoever is speaking is in the centre of the screen (there are two spaces) and the rest of the people are thumbnails (however this also applies to “whoever has any background noise!). As with ‘in person’ hearings it’s obviously really important that people don’t talk over each other, hence turning off the mic when not needed.
Additionally as there’s only one ‘room’, that the Panel control, it’s helpful for either ‘side’ to have a conference call number or another means of communicating during breaks.
Technical problems WILL HAPPEN. At one point I was logged into a hearing and could see & hear everything but the other parties could not see or hear me! This happened to several other witnesses across the 3 tribunals so my advice is to stay in contact with the advocate via email and let them know if you think you might be having technical issues.