Update: Winning A Residential Placement For A Child With Autism
The Law Of… Getting The Right Placement
Last year, Samantha Hale, Associate in Education Law and Community Care, helped secure a residential school place for a young boy with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which was worth £230,000.
One year later, Samantha revisits the case and looks at the progress her client's child has made at his placement.
What Happened In The Case?
This case involved Samantha helping a family to make an appeal against the provision allocated to their 7-year-old son with autism – referred to as D – in his Statement of SEN and the school that had been named in it.
When the case appeared before the SEND Tribunal, it had to decide whether D's needs were educational or focused around social care.
The Tribunal also had to consider whether D struggled to learn in comparison to other children of the same age, or whether his disability stopped him from being able to use the facilities in schools within his Local Authority.
Although the Local Authority believed that D's placement at a special school and package of social care were meeting his needs, Samantha argued that D's needs were mainly educational. This was because D had significant sensory needs, which weren't being addressed.
Due to this, his parents had to do whatever they could to manage his needs on a daily basis – this involved driving almost 1,000 miles a week for 2 years.
What Did The Tribunal Decide?
After reviewing the case, the Tribunal concluded that D should attend an independent special school in order for his needs to be met – this would cost a total of £230,000 a year.
Although the original social care package cost less compared to the new package, it didn't meet D's needs both inside and outside of school. On top of this, there were other problems with the package that the Local Authority suggested as it didn't have the right staff to implement the package of social care for D.
Overjoyed With D's Progress
D's parents were ecstatic with the decision, which guaranteed that their son would have the support that he so desperately needed to help him progress.
A year since Samantha helped D and his family, they have reported that he has made substantial progress and has even had his medication withdrawn:
"The specialist, residential placement achieved through the Tribunal process with the help of Samantha Hale has been a life-changer for our family. D has made remarkable progress since he started his placement."
"He is so much happier, calmer, less anxious and settled – so much so that his medication has been gradually withdrawn. He really benefits from the established routine and huge variety of activities. His diet has expanded from just a handful of foods to pretty much everything available!"
"He now sleeps through the night, no longer uses a pacifier and his self-harming has reduced substantially. The school is doing everything we hoped for D – treating him with kindness, keeping him safe and helping to fulfil his potential."
"For us, his parents, the placement was obviously a bittersweet result. Whilst it's very clear, we were 100% right to seek the placement and it's absolutely the right place for D we naturally miss him dearly. However, the school is extremely welcoming to us and phone us daily with an update on D’s day."
"We visit every single weekend and spend time with D onsite or offsite, which we love doing. Just prior to the Tribunal, we were close to tipping point, not knowing how we would cope if the decision went against us. Winning the placement and seeing the tremendous progress D has made and anticipating his future progress in the coming years justifies all our efforts. We have no regrets about our decision and are happy that it effectively kept our family together."
"To get the right level of educational provision for D, Simpson Millar's Education team worked tirelessly to obtain evidence to support the fact that D’s needs were educational."
"We were delighted with the Tribunal’s decision at the time that D’s needs were educational and that he should attend the residential placement, costing a total of £230,000 a year. This was clearly the right decision, as evidenced by the amazing progress D has made in just 1 year and the positive impact this has had on him and his family."
"If your child has special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and you need help securing the right placement or you'd like to appeal against a decision, our Education Law team will be more than happy to help you."