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Securing Funding for an Independent Specialist College Placement for an 18 Year Old with Physical Disabilities using Mediation | Case Study

Community Care Lawyers Discussing the 2014 Care Act

Summary

How the Community Care and Education Law team at Martin Searle Solicitors, obtained funding for a post-16 Independent Special College by lodging a Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Tribunal appeal.

The situation

Callum is 18 years old and has Cerebral Palsy affecting all four limbs, head and trunk. He uses a wheelchair full-time and requires a hoist in and out of his chair. Callum requires carers to assist him with many aspects of his daily life. He is a talented musician and is passionate about the performing arts.

Callum had been attending an independent special school for young people with complex physical disabilities throughout secondary school and sixth form which was funded by the Local Authority through his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP).

He was due to move on from this school and at his Annual Review requested a change of placement to a specialist Performing Arts college for young people with a range of physical and learning disabilities. This included onsite therapies and accommodation in adapted flats with on-call carers to provide the support with daily tasks that he requires.

The Local Authority did not agree to fund Callum’s preferred placement despite his huge interest in Performing Arts. Instead they offered a local mainstream Further Education College which did not have a Performing Arts course, and offered accommodation in a care home which was over a 45 minute taxi-drive away from the proposed college.

What Martin Searle Solicitors did

Our Community Care and Education Law team acted for Callum in issuing a SEND Tribunal appeal against the EHCP.

Although Callum had a strong case, the Local Authority’s late decision-making and the backlog within the Tribunal system meant a hearing would not be likely until September or October. This meant that he was at risk of losing the place on his chosen course.

Callum’s parents requested mediation with the Local Authority.  We represented Callum at the mediation meeting and used evidence obtained from his Subject Access Request for relevant documentation.

We analysed the EHCP reports and information which was already available to the Local Authority and argued that the Local Authority’s decision was unlawful. They had failed to follow the correct legal test for placement and the only lawful decision that could be reached was to agree to place Callum at his preferred college.

The result

Following mediation, the Local Authority SEND team reconsidered their decision and agreed to fund Callum’s placement at the independent special-post-16 college of his choice. The Adult Social Care team also agreed to fund his care and support in the college’s onsite accommodation.

This saved Callum and his family the stress and expense of a protracted Tribunal appeal and meant that Callum would have the summer to prepare for the exciting next phase of his education and the transition towards increased independent living as an adult.

If you need advice on your child’s entitlement to NHS Children’s Continuing Care, social care and/or Special Educational Needs funding, our expert Community Care Law and SEN solicitors can help. Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email info@ms-solicitors.co.uk to find out more.

 

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