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Irwin Mitchell’s public law department has acted for a 19 year old man with learning disabilities, autism and complex medical needs, in a challenge to the local authority’s failure to provide him with 48 weeks of education per year.
Our client, ‘TH’, had been educated at a specialist school for children with autism up until the age of 18. However when he left full time education in July 2013, his Learning Disability Assessment completed under s.139A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, did not provide him with an education package that his parents felt would be suitable to meet his complex needs.
The council had initially offered to fund 38 weeks education provision per year; however his parents felt that this level of provision was unjustified. A specialist education provider had separately assessed TH and considered that he needed a 48 week programme of 2:1 education support. TH’s parents were particularly concerned that without education being provided continuously throughout the year, TH would lose invaluable skills that he was learning in order to prepare him for independent living. The council had also failed to name any specific education placement in the s.139A assessment for TH to attend.
After TH’s parents instructed Irwin Mitchell to act on TH’s behalf, a letter before action was sent to the local authority. Following our letter the council agreed to carry out a further s.139A assessment to reassess TH’s needs; but the new assessment still failed to provide 48 weeks of education to TH.
We continued to correspond and negotiate with the council, and prior to court proceedings being issued the council backed down and agreed that TH’s complex needs warranted a 48 week education package.
Subsequently, and following a further round table meeting which we attended with TH’s parents, the council also agreed to name and fund the parents’ preferred placement for TH. They also agreed to reimburse TH’s parents for expenses that were incurred while no placement had been funded by the local authority.
The local authority has recognised that in particular circumstances such as these, where an individual has very significant and complex needs, a 48 week education is justified and necessary.
TH is now settled at his new placement, is making good progress, and his parents are very pleased with the education package that is now in place for him. Commenting on the new education package acquired for their son, his parents said:
"Given the financial constraints on council spending, we had expected a tough fight to get our son's educational package. But the process of reaching agreement was surprisingly quick. Irwin Mitchell presented a well thought-out case on behalf of TH and negotiated in a calm and expert manner.
“The result both parties reached was a sensible agreement and in our son's best interests. We are very impressed by the professional way Irwin Mitchell handled our case."
For expert advice on matters relating to education law, please contact Caroline Barrett of Irwin Mitchell’s public law team on 0370 1500 100, or complete our enquiry form and we will get back to you.
If you would like any further advice in relation to NHS direct payments, or if you are eligible for care and support from the NHS but you are concerned that NHS direct payments are not being offered to you, please contact Ashley Day on 0370 1500 100 or complete our enquiry form.
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