What to do if your child’s SEND School Closes

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Sarah Woosey Profile Picture
Sarah Woosey

Interim Head of Education Law

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Some special needs and disabilities are easy to spot from a young age, and others only come to light as a child gets older, and particularly once they start school. Although deciding on a school for your child can be stressful for any parents, there’s often a lot more to be considered by parents of children with additional needs.  Currently in the UK there are over 1.5 million pupils who have special educational needs (SEN), which Is an increase of 87,000 from 2022.

Furthermore, despite there being an increase in numbers of those with SEN, we have also seen situations where special schools have closed. In this article, we’ll tell you what to do if your child’s SEND school closes.

Help securing your child’s education in line with their Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)

Securing a suitable school place with the right provision in place for a child with an EHCP is essential, so it can be particularly difficult if the specialist school that they attend is forced to close down.

This is happening more and more due to funding issues, leaving hundreds of families struggling to find a suitable alternative, in a system where school places are limited.

Simpson Millar’s head of education, Sarah Woosey, helped support the families of Northease Manor School, which is a specialist school in Lewes, East Sussex, who faced potential closure over funding issues. It was announced that the school  might be closing due to financial issues, but  the Local Authority subsequently  reached an agreement to stay open.

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Here, Sarah talks about the challenges schools like Northease face, and outlines what options are available to the families affected, or if their school suffers similar consequences:

“This is a devastating position for families of vulnerable children to be in, and we are very aware that most families have already had to fight to get their children there in the first place by going through the SEND Tribunal appeal process.

“In many cases, the children who attend a special school have an EHCP which specifically names the school as the only suitable educational setting with all of the necessary provision in place to meet their needs. 

“Where that is the case, the Local Authority is under a legal obligation to ensure provision is delivered. They also have a duty to ensure that those children have access to suitable, full time, education. 

“If the school named ceases to exist, then the local authority is legally obliged to arrange alternative provision.

“Sadly, due to increasing costs and a lack of increased funding, many schools are facing potential closure. This is putting additional pressure on other specialist schools across the country, and many children are struggling to find a place that meets their needs. 

"If you have been affected by this situation then feel free to contact Simpson Millar and we will see if our specialist team of education lawyers can assist you.”

Impact on those with SEN

We understand that when it comes to your child and SEN, that the world of law can be complicated.  We know that ensuring that the appropriate provision is in place for children is not  easy, and parents with children with SEN must navigate a difficult and often confusing system — all at the same time as trying to meet their child’s day to day requirements. 

Along with all this ongoing stress, the Local Authority’s budgets are constantly being cut which has a direct impact on the provision put in place to meet a child’s needs.

This means that getting appropriate legal advice can be  essential. Our Education Law Solicitors are experienced in assisting parents secure provision for children with special educational needs. While some of our Solicitors have previous experience working for Local Authorities, which is very useful, we don’t represent Local Authorities. We represent parents and their children, as opposed to institutions.

How can Simpson Millar help my child’s SEN?

 We have experience with:

  • Securing funding for residential schools for children and young people with SEN and/or other needs, therapy or 1:1 support within school.
  • Providing advice on disputes with schools, including school exclusions (whether formal or informal)
  • Difficulties with schools preventing the necessary access to external therapists
  • Disputes with social care and health services.
  • Disputes over school placement and the funding of placements

Contact Us

We have  one of the the largest team of top ranked Education Law specialists in the UK. Our expert Education Solicitors and SEND Lawyers can help you find the right solutions for your child, so they receive the education and help they need.

We pride ourselves on giving practical advice, based on our years of expertise and experience in all areas of Education Law. And we also extend our expertise to work with other solicitors and alongside Case Managers during or after litigation.

We represent parents and children, not Local Authorities.  We’re focused on giving expert help to you so you can navigate the system and get the solutions that your child needs. Call us on 0808 239 9764 to see how we could help you and your child.


Department for Education. (n.d.). Special educational needs in England. [Online] Available at: https://explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk/find-statistics/special-educational-needs-in-england

Northease Manor School. (n.d.). Home. [Online] Available at: https://www.northease.co.uk/

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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