In remembrance of our wonderful SEN expert and parent adviser, Jill Hardman
3 mins read
Thursday 3 March 2022
The Contact family heard last week that our dear friend and colleague, Jill Hardman, passed away on 13 February after a battle with cancer.
Jill helped launch Contact’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) helpline over 10 years ago and led our team of dedicated education advisers to deliver SEN advice and help to parents worried about anything to do with their child’s education – from support in school and school transport to getting an EHC plan and education beyond 16.
During her time at Contact Jill helped literally thousands of parents struggling to get the right support for their children in school either by directly talking to them on our helpline, answering their social media queries and emails, running Q&A sessions on Facebook, writing content for our education guides, factsheets and webpages as well as advising journalists and decision makers on the impact government policies have on the families Contact supports.
Micheala Stewart, one of Jill’s colleagues on the SEN helpline, said: “Jill taught me everything I know about SEN law and I feel this a small legacy to Jill’s expertise and knowledge. I and the rest of the team will miss her enormously.”
Jill’s manager, Angie Fenn, said: “I’ve worked with Jill at Contact for many years. Jill’s knowledge and experience is greatly missed, she was so committed to supporting and empowering parents enabling so many to secure education provision, a school place and challenge poor practice. Jill also had a great sense of fun and was a supportive and collaborative colleague who embraced trying new things and challenges. I’ve been proud to work alongside her.”
Contact’s CEO Amanda Batten paid tribute to Jill saying: “Jill was there helping parents understand the huge changes to the England SEN system back in 2014 and established our then new education advice line. More recently she supported parent carers through the turbulance of the pandemic and the impact it’s had on children’s schooling. Jill was absolutely passionate about Contact and the families we support, helping many thousands of families and children throughout her career. She made a huge difference to so many lives and although we will miss her greatly, she leaves a huge legacy at Contact.”
About our SEN helpline
Contact was awarded a Department for Education contract to establish a new and unique country-wide service for families of children with special educational needs in 2011 and the Special Education Needs (SEN) National Advice Service launched in 2012. Since then, we’ve expanded our online education information – all written by our SEN helpline team – and introduced new ways to reach us, including our website Live Chat and our helpline enquiry form. Our FAQs tool helps website users quickly find answers to the some of the questions we’re most asked about on the helpline.
Thousands of parent carers got in touch with our new SEN National Advice Service when it was first launched in 2012, proving that this service was much needed by parent carers navigating the extremely complex and often confusing SEN maze. Since then, the number of education enquiries continues to grow year on year. In 2021 just under 5,500 education enquiries were responded to by our parent advisers.