Another Successful Appeal


Kathryn Saban has recently assisted the parent of a 7 year old boy, “J”, who has extremely complex needs, including being non-verbal, having a diagnosis of severe autism and extremely challenging behaviour, to secure an independent special school placement valued in excess of £70,000 per year. This was achieved by making a successful appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal.

The Local Authority involved initially issued a Statement naming the mainstream school, which J was attending, within Part 4 of the Statement. This was named despite the parent and the school confirming that J simply could not cope with the demands of a mainstream classroom. J was only in the mainstream classroom for a few minutes per day, if at all, and for the remainder of the school day he was being “contained” within a fenced playground, as the school considered that his behaviour was too challenging and disruptive to enable him to stay within the classroom.

Kathryn assisted the parents with making an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal. Kathryn prepared the case for the tribunal by gathering relevant evidence from the school, the parent and professionals working with J and instructing independent experts to assess J. An independent educational psychologist was instructed and confirmed in the strongest possible terms that J was not being educated in any sense of the word.

Once the appeal was lodged, the Local Authority conceded that J could not remain at the identified mainstream school. Despite this, the Local Authority did not identify a suitable special school, but instead suggested that J be placed in a mainstream school with an integrated resource provision. This would have involved J being in a mainstream classroom approximately 70% of the school day.

During the appeal process, overwhelming evidence was gathered to show that a mainstream school had not worked for J in the past and was not a suitable option, even with the additional funding made through the resource provision.

The parent identified an independent special school, that could offer J the integrated speech and language therapy and occupational therapy he desperately needed and would work to reduce the challenging behaviours that J presented with. The annual fees for the placement were approximately £70,000 per year. The Local Authority maintained that J’s needs could be met within a mainstream school with resource provision and so the case went to a full hearing at the tribunal.

The tribunal ordered that the parent’s preferred school should be named within J’s Statement. It was commented within the order that the tribunal were not surprised that the child’s needs had not been met within mainstream, due to the severity and complexity of those needs. They agreed with the parent that J requires a holistic approach that can address his very challenging behaviours and where the staff at the school can work with the family at home.

Kathryn effectively negotiated the contents of J’s Statement with the Local Authority to ensure that J now receives high levels of direct speech and language therapy and occupational therapy. She advised and supported the client throughout the process. The client has 3 children who have autism, so it was particularly important that Kathryn dealt with the appeal on her behalf, to minimise the stress of the appeal process for her.

The parent stated, “I would not have known what I would have done without the help from Kathryn Saban. You have been there no matter what. I would highly recommend you.”

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