Mum Successfully Challenges Local Authority over Daughter’s School Place in JADR Hearing

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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We helped a mother successfully gain a placement for her child in her preferred school during a Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution (JADR) Hearing in a disagreement between our client and the Local Authority over travel costs.

A mother got in touch with us about her 4 year old daughter who has significant special educational needs.

When a child has additional support needs and requires additional support, the main focus should always be on that child and their own individual needs. Those who work within the relevant services concerning Special Educational Needs should always ask themselves the question of “what can be done here or put in place to help level the playing field when this child is learning and being educated?”. Because ultimately, that should be the end goal.

In our client’s case, a difficulty arose when the Local Authority named a maintained special school as the educational establishment that they would like her daughter to attend. However, the mother wanted her daughter to go to an independent specialist school, as she had already been attending at the nursery attached to the school for the past 2 years.

As such, the child’s mother contacted our specialist team of Education Law Solicitors to see if they could help with appealing this case.

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What Happens at a JADR Hearing?

The JADR (Judicial Alternative Dispute Resolution) allows a Judge to consider the evidence available and discuss the merits and weaknesses of the case with all parties.

Generally, ADR is the name given to different ways of resolving certain disputes that don’t involve going to trial at court. A JADR differs slightly in that a Judge is involved however there are no formal court proceedings. Instead, an open discussion can take place between all parties with a Judge acting as a Mediator in a more formal Mediation process.

The process of JADR is confidential. A short report may be prepared for the final Tribunal panel which identifies the prime issues to be decided. However, discussions during this process are not shared with the final Tribunal panel. This is because the purpose of a JADR is to help all parties reach agreement before the final stage. The judge present is there in an advisory capacity, as well as to determine whether an agreement can be reached at this stage. If the case does proceed to the final Tribunal, the new panel hear the arguments made for the first time without any prior influence.

Unreasonable Transport Costs for the School

In this case, the evidence suggested to us that both the proposed placements (by the Local Authority and the mother) were suitable from an educational perspective.

The Local Authority had submitted four different costings for transport, which made the mother’s preferred school significantly more expensive, at around £18,000 more than the alternative.

The Local Authority was unable to back up its costings, citing the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) as a reason as to why they could not supply the details. We disagreed and said we would accept that any personally identifiable information could be redacted to make it compliant with the GDPR while showing the information that was needed.

During the JADR, the Local Authority tried to argue that the mother’s preferred school was unable to meet her daughter’s special educational needs. The Judge, however, did not agree with them. When looking at the costs, the Judge asked whether the mother could financially afford to transport her daughter to her choice of school, to make the cost difference between the two establishments smaller. The mother said that she would be able to provide transport if the Local Authority covered the cost of her petrol. This reduced the transport costs significantly, meaning the preferred school was now only £1,600 more expensive than the other.

How We Got the Best Outcome for Our Client

After consideration, the Local Authority said that the cost difference between the two schools was not significant. They agreed to pay the petrol costs and to name the mother’s choice of school as the preferred placement. As such, the Judge issued a consent order confirming this agreement and the appeal concluded the same day.

This meant that our client did not have to attend any more hearings and that her daughter was able to attend the preferred school. We were pleased to have helped them win their case. If you need help to navigate the system to get the best outcome for your child, get in touch to see if our specialist Education and SEND lawyers can help you.

Our team of Education Lawyers have years of experience in dealing with cases such as this and achieving a positive outcome. We want to help you get what’s best for your child. If you think your child is not getting the education and help that they need,  you can contact us to find out more information on 0808 239 1287 or requesting a call back.


Judiciary UK. (n.d.). Civil Justice Council - Dispute Resolution. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

UK. (n.d.). A guide to civil mediation. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

NHS England. (n.d.). Children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

(n.d.). Learning disabilities. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

UK. (n.d.). Extra SEN help. Retrieved from (Accessed: 14/12/2023)

Sarah Woosey Profile Picture

Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

Areas of Expertise:
Education Law

Sarah re-joined Simpson Millar in 2018 having previously trained at the firm before spending a number of years working for a different national firm. She has a number of years’ experience in a range of Education Law and Social Care issues and has focused particularly on getting suitable education and/or services for children and young adults with a wide range of Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities.

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