CCLC has successfully challenged a local authority which left a child with special educational needs out of education for years.
Multiple failures to provide education
H has complex special educational needs (SEN) and was subject to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), albeit outdated. H’s former school placement had broken down when he was in year 4 and he remained out of school until a new placement was secured at the start of year 6. H attended this placement until the lockdown in March 2020.
At the start of the new academic year in September 2020, H remained out of school as his local authority failed to amend his EHCP to name a secondary school for him. Unfortunately for H, the local authority also failed to provide him with any alternative education. CCLC argued that the local authority, in failing to name a secondary school or provide alternate provision, breached their duties under the SEND Regulations 2014, section 19 of the Education Act 1996, section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014, section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 and Article 2 of Protocol 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“no person shall be denied the right to education”).
CCLC sent the local authority a letter before action but unfortunately for H no purposeful steps were taken to resolve H’s lack of education provision and a claim for judicial review was issued.
A positive outcome
Soon after issuing judicial review proceedings the local authority accepted all asserted failures and agreed to provide H with home tuition of 3 hours a day whilst secondary schools were being proposed. The local authority also issued an updated EHCP which will allow the parent to appeal to the SEN Tribunal, should the placement not be agreed. The parent can also seek to appeal the description of needs and provisions contained within the plan. Judicial review proceedings were settled by way of a Consent Order, approved by the High Court.
Mr Sheikh comments that:
This parent had been desperately trying to get her son back into a suitable school as he had missed so much education since year 4. The local authority made assurances that were then ignored. It is a real shame that CCLC had to issue judicial review proceedings for the local authority to fulfil its legal obligations towards this vulnerable child. Although the child is now accessing education, we will continue to support the family until he is attending a suitable school and his EHC plan is adequately updated.