Legal Updates

Education: Special Educational Needs

The case of N v Southwark London Borough Council [2005], concerned the claimant (N), a 13-year-old boy with special needs acting by his mother and litigant friend. He was diagnosed with mild-to-moderate attention deficit/hyperactive disorder, significant receptive and expressive language disorders, fine motor difficulties and mild dyslexia.

Southwark London Borough Council local education authority ("Authority") had made a statement of special educational needs for N. His mother appealed to the special educational needs and disability tribunal (SENDIST) and it found that the school specified in the statement was unsuitable for N. The parties were asked to submit alternative schools. The Authority suggested as an alternative a city technology college ("College"). N's mother wanted him to attend an independent secondary day school for children with dyslexia on the grounds that the statement had also required N to be provided with occupational therapy, a service not provided at the College. The Authority rejected this assertion and claimed that they were making assurances that occupational therapy would be provided for N when he attended the school. The tribunal amended the statement to specify the College.

N appealed against this decision, pursuant to s 11 of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992. He claimed that tribunal had made an unlawful and/or irrational decision when it specified that N should be provided with occupational therapy at a specified school when at that date there was no such provision at the school but instead, assurances that it might be provided.

The appeal was dismissed as follows:

  • the fact that the specified school was unable, at the date of the tribunal's decision, to provide the occupational therapy that N needed, but had undertaken to do so, had not precluded the tribunal from specifying that school in the statement; and
  • it was for the tribunal to assess the assurances put before it by the Authority in determining whether those assurances could be relied upon and would be sufficient, if delivered, to meet N's needs.


In the circumstances, the tribunal was entitled to make the above decision and had not acted unlawfully and/or irrationally.

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Email: enquiries@rtcoopers.com

© RT COOPERS, 2005. This Briefing Note does not provide a comprehensive or complete statement of the law relating to the issues discussed nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight general issues. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to particular circumstances.

 

 

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