Special School Placement for boy With Complex Educational and Health Needs

Author:
Esther Salter
Education Law Associate Solicitor
Date:
12/05/2022

J is a nine-year-old boy who is Looked After, meaning he is in the care of the Local Authority. He is currently living with his now Prospective Adopters, who he has been with since he was three days old.

J has a complex mix of special educational and health needs, including diagnoses of chromosomal disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), moderate learning difficulties, sensory processing difficulties, visual impairment, seizures, and central sleep apnoea.

Due to the extent of J’s needs, he requires 24-hour supervision.

J Wasn’t Receiving the Proper Support in his School Placement

J’s Prospective Adopters came to us looking for advice on his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) which they felt did not fully describe the extent of his special educational, health and social care needs, and the support and provision needed for him to meet his potential.

The family were particularly concerned about his placement at the time, which had failed to identify or record any of his seizures at school. Additionally, they did not have a seizure management plan in place, and J’s family felt his current school could not meet his sensory and communication needs.

J was being labelled as “challenging” and was, in his Prospective Adopters’ view, in physical danger due to the lack of understanding of his epilepsy. J’s Prospective Adopters had an alternative school in mind, which they had visited, and spoken with already.

How we Helped

We were instructed to assist the family with an appeal of multiple sections within J’s EHCP in what’s known as a National Trial Appeal.

With Legal Help funding, we were able to obtain up to date reports on J’s needs from an Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist and Occupational Therapist. These helped us to negotiate J’s provision and support with the Local Authority, meaning that by the time we got to Tribunal, the areas of disagreement had already been significantly lessened. However, his placement remained in dispute.

Usually, clients who are financially eligible would receive Legal Help funding for legal representation up until the point of the final hearing and would then have to self-represent. But under Legal Aid Exceptional Case Funding, we were able to secure financial support that enabled us to represent J at the Tribunal final hearing.

This financial aid also covered the attendance of several key expert witness on our side – the Educational Psychologist, Speech and Language Therapist, and Independent Social Worker. Their presence helped us to defend our arguments on the necessity of provisions for J that had been disputed and the unsuitable nature of his current placement.

The Outcome

Through the appeal process, we were able to secure a place for J at the school his Prospective Adoptive Parents chose, an Independent special school with expertise in students with epilepsy.

We were also able to obtain significantly increased therapeutic provisions for J, including Speech and Language Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

Additionally, we obtained the following social care recommendations:

  • 18 hours a week short break package;
  • nine hours each week to allow for overnight respite;
  • a reassessment of suitability and need for adaptations of the family home;
  • a reassessment will take place of specialist equipment;
  • support to attend a suitable Playscheme in the school holidays (21 days in total) with 1:1 support provided.

The Local Authority agreed to put these social recommendations in place following the Tribunal.

J’s parents have recently let us know that J is now thriving in his new school, and we wish him all the best going forward.

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