Philippa* is 16 years old and has severe Autism, extremely delayed communication and processing difficulties as well as seizures. These difficulties have a severe impact on her ability to undertake tasks in and out of the classroom without significant levels of adult support. Philippa has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and was attending a maintained mainstream secondary school.
Philippa’s parents believe that the Local Authority’s proposal of a transition to a mainstream college placement would be wholly inappropriate and potentially unsafe for a vulnerable pupil like Philippa. They wanted her to attend a school that specialised in helping pupils with Autism alongside a peer group of pupils with similar difficulties.
We helped lodge an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) against the LA’s proposed college placement. The LA argued that Philippa had been attending a mainstream secondary school and would be expected to therefore move to a mainstream college. They argued that a placement at an independent school would amount to unreasonable public expenditure. The annual difference in cost between the two placements was in excess of £50,000.
The appeal was against Section B (description of special educational needs), Section F (special educational provision) and Section I (college placement). During the appeal, the LA reconsidered the college placement and offered Philippa a placement at a special school for pupils with severe learning difficulties. We were able to demonstrate that Philippa’s needs could not be met at the LA’s newly proposed special school. The LA had failed to find a placement that could meet all of Philippa’s needs and keep her safe in school. We proved that the peer group at the proposed new school and the course offered were completely unsuitable. We secured a placement at a very well-established specialist independent school for pupils with Autism along with transport costs.
Philippa and her family are delighted with this outcome.
*Not the child’s real name.