Upper tribunal allows appeal - educational provision out-of-term-time

An interesting recent case, GK v North Somerset Council (2018), was heard at the Upper Tribunal in relation to special educational provision out-of-term-time.

Parents and educational professionals will know that children and young people (CYP) can take a step back in some aspects of their learning during lengthy holiday periods. This can be even more prevalent when the CYP has special educational needs (SEN). Many CYP with SEN have regular therapies and need to practice newly acquired skills over and over again. A long break without this provision can not only halt progress in these areas but cause regression. 

In GK v North Somerset Council the Upper Tribunal allowed an appeal that had been brought on two grounds:

  1. The First-tier Tribunal (FTT) had made an error in finding that special educational provision (speech and language therapy (SLT) in this case) should be limited to term time only; and
  2. The FTT had made an error in failing to take into proper account of the evidence regarding the number of hours to be allocated to SLT reviews and reassessments.

The Upper Tribunal allowed the appeal on the basis of the FTT having failed to give adequate reasons for its findings in relation to the out-of-term special educational provision.  Having found for the appellant on this basis, the Upper Tribunal did not go on to consider the second ground of appeal.  The case was re-referred back to be heard by a different FTT panel.

North Somerset (LA) did not argue that educational provision could not in law extend into school holidays. The LA’s argument was that SLT provision was not in fact required as educational provision in the summer holidays.

The LA argued that the FTT’s decision was clear and that adequate reasoning had been given for its findings, that any regression over the holiday was to be addressed by the school in term-time and that any regression could be remedied by parents (although this was not necessary) by following home practice as advised by the Speech and Language Therapist. The LA case was that the proposed SLT provision of three sessions of 45 minutes in the summer holidays was not reasonably required.

The case raises interesting issues to keep an eye on. How does educational provision in the holidays (as in this case) compare to extended days or residential placements where learning can and does extend across the day and holiday period?

If you are struggling to get educational provision for your child with SEN, email us at senexpertsolicitors@boyesturner.com. We’re happy to help. 

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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