Victory for special needs child refused a place at academy school

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Simpson Millar has now successfully concluded the case concerning an appeal for a place at Mossbourne Academy on behalf of an academically very able child with cerebral palsy.

This case related to the fact that Hackney, at Mossbourne's request, had refused to name the school on the child's statement, despite his own achievements at his current school. The academy had refused a place based on the fact that they believed they already had a higher than average number of children with SEN in the school and that admitting the boy would affect other pupils? education. Mossbourne Academy also argued that the case should be brought before a SEN appeals tribunal as the school claimed it was ruled only by a funding agreement with the government and not by state schools' legislation: after an appeal brought by Simpson Millar, that argument was defeated.

A specialist in Education Law at Simpson Millar represented the family at the final tribunal hearing which resulted in a concession by the local authority and school in the late stages of the hearing that they would no longer oppose the child's placement at the academy. The tribunal also found in the parents favour with regard to the support the child should receive in the school.

Information elicited during the appeal process disclosed that the procedure used by the local authority for allocating mainstream secondary school places was unlawful, and the tribunal stated "We consider that there is an urgent need for the LA to revise its administrative procedures to ensure that it complies with SEN regulations." The panel further stated that the evidence put forward by the local authority in support of the contention that admitting the child in question would be incompatible with efficient education was totally unsubstantiated, and they expressed their surprise that the LA continued to oppose the appeal.

Our expert solicitor commented that she was delighted that our client's child, who clearly should never have been refused a place, at last has his future settled and is able to attend the school he desperately wants to go to. She however pointed out that, in an article on the case in the Times Educational Supplement, the LA representative had suggested that they could see nothing wrong with their procedures for allocating school placements for children with SEN, and this may unfortunately mean that there will need to be further tribunal appeals about schools in Hackney next year.

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