Successful negotiation with the local authority

Beatrix has a severe speech and language disorder and difficulties with her fine and gross motor skills. She has problems with her working memory and has special educational needs including diagnoses of dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

Beatrix's parents did not think that she needed to go to a special school but they did not think that she would cope in a large mainstream school either. What they wanted was for Beatrix to go to a small mainstream school with support. What they could not afford, however, was the extra support that Beatrix needed, the cost of which would more than double her school fees.

How we were able to help

We were able to advise parents through the Statementing process and lodged an appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST) whilst at the same time continuing negotiations with the LA. Without the need to go to the Hearing we were successful in getting the LA to fund the additional support and therapies that she needed provided parents agreed to fund the independent school. This arrangement was written into Part 4 of Beatrix's Statement.

Beatrix did well at the small independent school for a few years but as she got older her parents found the gap widening between her and her peers and decided to move her to a special independent school. As the new school was not named on Beatrix's Statement, her parents had to fund the school fees and additional support themselves. Beatrix's parents requested the LA to amend her Statement to reflect the change of school in the hope that the LA would continue to fund support whilst parents paid the school fees. The LA refused saying that they now had a special unit within a mainstream school that could meet Beatrix's educational needs. Beatrix's parents disagreed.

We worked with Beatrix's parents in their dealings with the LA. Beatrix's parents were prepared to continue paying school fees but wanted the LA to continue funding the additional support.

We advised Beatrix's parents to prepare for an appeal by lining up independent experts to assess Beatrix and, at the same time, to negotiate with the LA. Using existing reports we compiled evidence to put parents in a strong position when negotiating. The LA eventually agreed to continue funding the additional support that Beatrix needed and her parents agreed to pay the school fees. An early resolution meant that there was no need to go to a Hearing, the independent assessments were not necessary and the LA funding the additional support and therapies immediately, rather than waiting for the outcome of a SENDIST appeal.

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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