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Court Of Appeal Judgment Improves Parental Choice In Education Cases

Decision To Impact On Challenges to Special Educational Needs Tribunal over School Placements


An important ruling by the Court of Appeal has clarified the legal position regarding which costs should be taken into account when assessing whether the costs of an independent school placement sought by a parent for their disabled child amounts to unreasonable public expenditure for the purposes of Section 9 of the Education Act 1996.

The Court unanimously overturned the previous decision made in the case of WH v Warrington and made clear that public expenditure should be defined as any expenditure from the public purse regardless of the source.

This means that health and social care costs, such as respite care should be considered alongside any educational costs when comparing the costs of the parent’s choice of school with the one proposed by the local education authority.

The Judgment will have significant implications on cases where parents are seeking a specialist residential school placement to be named in Part 4 of a child’s Statement of Special Educational Needs.

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