Case Study: Residential Placement Secured for Child in an Unsuitable School

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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We helped a child’s parents bring a judicial review and a positive ending in a case where the Local Authority were failing to provide suitable education for their child.

The parents of an 8-year-old girl with Autism who we will refer to as K, was attending the day school placement named in her Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP). As time passed it became increasingly apparent that the school K was attending was unable to meet her complex needs. K’s autism means that she is often non-verbal, and her way of communicating her distress in situations was through biting and scratching herself. Along with inflicting this aguish on herself, K would also lash out at others.

Autism can have many different signs, and in fact, it is estimated worldwide that 1 in 100 children have autism – so, there are many areas of the spectrum.

The Local Authority left K in her day school placement for well over a year, even though it was clearly not suitable for her. At the time, neither the parents or The Local Authority could find available spaces in any other day schools in the area that would be able to cater to K’s needs.

The only option that offered K a space was a special boarding school, much further away from their family home, but it did have the extra requirements that the family were looking for. Unfortunately, as great as it sounded for the family, The Local Authority would not agree to back this school, as those with residential settings come at a high cost.

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How Simpson Millar Helped K and Her Parents

The parents got in touch with our team of Education Law Solicitors, and gave us the full details of their case. The first thing we did was point out that the Local Authority has a legal duty to ensure all children receive a suitable education – and at that time, K was not.

The residential school that accepted K was the only available option at the time that could cater to K’s needs, which is why the parents had to submit a review against their current EHC plan.

We helped the parents to bring a judicial review against the Local Authority on the basis that, although K had a school place, they were failing to provide any suitable education. We provided evidence of the issues K was facing at this school.

In conclusion, we managed to get K her deserved place at the residential school. The case was settled when the Local Authority agreed to fund the special boarding school, even though they had initially declined it. Along with agreeing to fund the school, they also acknowledged the fact that the parents should not have been forced to take legal action to get them to agree to this – which was a basic right for their child’s needs. The Local Authority then agreed to pay the legal costs which had been funded through Legal Aid; and K’s parents were extremely happy with the outcome.

What is Judicial Review?

Judicial review is a type of claim which is brought in the Administrative Court where an individual or group is challenging the lawfulness of a decision taken, an unlawful delay in making a decision or an unlawful policy. In K’s parents’ instance, it’s the fact that the Local Authority wouldn’t fund a school that is appropriate for their child’s SEN, so the results were in K’s favour. 

How we can Help

Our Education Law Solicitors and SEN Lawyers provide legal advice and representation on Special Educational Needs (SEN) matters to parents and professionals including other Solicitors and case managers.

We also have significant experience of social care work, so we’re very well-placed to advise when there is crossover between the care and education elements of a child’s provision, or when a residential placement may be required; like in this instance.

If you don’t think that your child is getting the right support for their education, then reach out to our friendly team on 0808 239 9764 – We’re happy to discuss and provide legal advice at any point, and will always work with your child’s best interest at heart.


Simpson Millar LLP. (Publication date not specified). "EHCP Section by Section Explained." Available at:

World Health Organization (WHO). (Publication date not specified). "Autism Spectrum Disorders." Available at:

National Autistic Society. (Publication date not specified). "Extra Help at School - England." Available at:

STAT. (2023, March 23). "CDC’s count of autism cases increases sharply." Available at:

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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