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My child with special needs would be better served at a specialist residential school but the Local Authority are refusing to pay. What can I do?

My child with special needs would be better served at a specialist residential school but the Local Authority are refusing to pay. What can I do?

In the UK, every single young person or child with special educational needs is legally entitled to a full-time education that takes into account and is appropriate to their needs and/or their disability. If it is at all possible, they should be educated within a mainstream school, with the assistance they require being provided informally.

If on the other hand their disability or special needs are so severe that it isn't possible to educate them within a mainstream school, then a formal assessment should be made by the Local Authority, who should then provide an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), outlining specifically what special assistance your child needs and whether he or she would be best served in a mainstream or in a specialist residential school. Sometimes a specialist residential school is the best way forward for your child and if the Local Authority doesn’t agree and are not prepared to fund this, then it can be a frustrating and worrying time.

However, if you disagree with the decision made by your Local Authority or if you have a dispute over funding, you do have the right to appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Special Educational Needs and Disability). Furthermore, there are various other circumstances that may prompt you to launch an appeal, such as when the Local Authority has:

  • decided against conducting an assessment that may lead to issuing an EHCP
  • decided not to grant an EHCP
  • refused to reassess a child or young person

Similarly, you may choose to appeal if you don't agree with any of the following:

  • the Local Authority's decision regarding your child's needs
  • the provisions in the plan
  • the school choice made by the LA
  • a decision to remove an EHCP
  • a refusal to make appropriate alterations to an existing EHCP following its annual review

How should you prepare for your appeal?

If you do decide to go ahead and launch an appeal, you must be sure to begin the process within two calendar months of the date of your written notification of the Local Authority's decision or a month within the date of the mediation certificate, whichever is the later, noting the obligation that exists to consider mediation.

In the build-up to your appeal, you must be sure to gather together as much relevant evidence as possible. If you're not sure exactly what's relevant and what isn't, the highly experienced team at Match Solicitors can advise you. We can also help you prepare your entire case and represent you at the Tribunal.

We can help you with invaluable assistance throughout the process, from drafting documents to negotiating a mutually satisfactory outcome or preparing a case through to the Tribunal hearing where that is required. Please give us a call at your earliest convenience to discuss your case in confidence.


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The service received from Match Solicitors was faultless; highly professional and efficient. The advice received was extremely sound and sensible. The service was fairly priced.

Mr Moore, Kent

Match Solicitors were highly recommended to us not only for their undisputed comprehensive knowledge of the SEN legal minefield, but for their understanding of autism and other disorders and consequent compassionate work ethic. Their diligence and consummate professionalism ensured that the Local Authority were forced to take our son’s case seriously. It is almost impossible to articulate how grateful we are to Rishi and Anita for their hard work and dedication.

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