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Lawyers Granted Permission To Challenge Hackney’s Special Educational Needs Policies In High Court

Legal Experts Representing Affected Families Granted Judicial Review

05.07.2018

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Families are to step up their opposition to Hackney Council’s plans to reduce its special educational needs budget after being granted permission to challenge the plans in the High Court.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law and Human Rights team is acting for four families who believe that their children, who have an array of special educational needs, are not receiving the essential support they require at several schools in the area.

Families, who have been granted legal aid, are arguing that such issues have arisen as the council’s banded system for funding such support is inadequate. They are also challenging the council’s recent decision to cut the amount it spends on each child with special educational needs in its area and that recent changes to the format of Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans used to assess support requirements are also unlawful.

Expert Opinion
We are pleased that the court has accepted that we have an arguable case which merits a full judicial review of Hackney’s proposals.

“It remains our view that the local authority has failed to ensure that each child receives the level of help they require and that the proposals to reduce funding do not have the individual needs of a child in mind.

“These proposals would severely impact on some of the most vulnerable people in society. We once again call on the local authority to engage with families to find a solution and end the worry and upset our clients are experiencing because of these proposals.”
Anne-Marie Irwin, Associate Solicitor

The London Borough of Hackney operates a banded funding system through its ‘Resource Level’ policy which was recently cut by five per cent. Irwin Mitchell is arguing that the change was made without consultation with the affected families, while the tiered system offers no flexibility to ensure sufficient funding is provided for each child.

Lawyers for the families also argue that the new format of the EHC Plan used by the local authority is contrary to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice and may mean that children may not be getting the support to which they are entitled.

The judicial review is expected to be held in the autumn, although no date has yet been set. Irwin Mitchell’s legal case will be put forward by barrister Stephen Broach of Monckton Chambers.

Irwin Mitchell is also representing families affected by similar issues in regions including Surrey. The law firm has also been granted permission to challenge Surrey County Council’s decision to reduce its schools and special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) budgets by over £20 million in a judicial review to be held in October.

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling education law cases.