Legal Updates

Education: Special Educational Needs - Tribunal's Reasoning

The case of W v Special Educational Needs Tribunal and another [2005], was concerned with whether the claimant's child, with special educational needs, was appropriately placed in a secondary school. Two possible schools were identified for the child. However, the local authority preferred school P. The claimant wanted the child to attend a residential school S and claimed a 'waking day' curriculum was more appropriate. The authority rejected the claimant's request on the grounds of costs. The claimant appealed to the special educational needs and disability tribunal (SENDIST). SENDIST decided that both schools were capable of meeting the child's needs. The case therefore turned on the issue of costs. The cost of school S was calculated as approximately £34,000. School P was estimated to cost £22,000, with transport costs of approximately £7,000. The authority's argued that school P should be preferred on the grounds of costs and this school should be accepted. The claimant appealed.

It was ruled that there was no issue regarding the decision that either school would be capable of meeting the child's needs. The dispute regarded the calculation of costs - the claimant argued that the figures for school P excluded the cost of the required transport and escort for the child.

The appeal was allowed because it was held that the reasoning of SENDIST had been inadequate. The SENDIST had not set out clearly the issues as to costs and the evidence to support those issues. It was unclear whether SENDIST had dealt with all the evidence before it, but SENDIST's reasoning did not establish why they had rejected the claimant's evidence.

The decision was quashed and the dispute remitted to a new tribunal.

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© 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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