QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF D||(CLAIMANT)|
|SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS TRIBUNAL||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
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(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
THE DEFENDANT DID NOT APPEAR AND WAS NOT REPRESENTED.
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"His current school recommends a school that is able to support students with dyslexia and also indicates a 'withdrawal unit would be inadequate to meet his needs' and that 'he needs specialist multisensory teaching across all subject areas'. D agrees with this view of H's needs. D and H have visited Castle School and Mark College. H has spent a day at Mark College and feels it would meet his needs in a manner not available at Monks Park. The College are clear that they can offer H appropriate support and input."
"Whilst H's self confidence has improved considerably, he has made little progress with regard to his specific level difficulties in the holistic environment."
"H's problems were so severe that this mainstream provision could be viewed as inappropriate. This view was supported by both Mrs Jones and Dr Lloyd, both of whom considered that a continuation of a small holistic environment was needed to boost H's self esteem and to ensure continued academic progress."
"A. The parties were in agreement that the specific learning difficulties faced by H are at the extreme end of the spectrum of the difficulty. Whilst the Tribunal noted that both Mrs Jones and Ms Lloyd viewed his difficulties in the context of their professional lifetime, we accept the evidence of Ms Coull that H was not exceptional in the context of a city wide secondary school resource for which the admission criteria is a reading age of 6.7 or less."
"B. [The Tribunal] recognise that D would prefer her son to attend Mark College. We accept that Mark College could meet H's special educational needs and that the quality of provision in a holistic environment is extremely high."
"C. A day placement at Mark College is not considered appropriate by D. Having heard the arguments put forward on her behalf, we were not satisfied that H's needs are such that they can only be met in a residential placement. She did not wish any other placement to be considered. Whilst we appreciate that there are facilities and opportunities from which he would doubtless benefit (eg cooking and gardening) these additional facilities are not considered to be necessary to meet his special education needs.
"D ... the Tribunal can only consider a place at Mark College if the LEA is not able to make appropriate provision. Mr Cox indicated from the outset that if the LEA were to establish the appropriateness of its own provision that placement at Mark College must be viewed as unreasonable public expenditure.
"E. The Tribunal recognise that in Mark College and the resource unit at Monks Park it was faced with two very different learning environments. No general criticism of either provision was made at the hearing. The concerns of D focussed on her very real concerns that H would not only fail to make progress at Monks Park but that he would also lose the improved self esteem that has been hard won at his time at the Bristol Dyslexia Unit.
"F. Mrs Jones is very keen for H to attend Mark College. Its ethos echoes the holistic, specialist approach that is adopted at the Centre. In spite of the intensive support of specialist teachers, there is no evidence of any real improvement in the acquisition of literacy skills in H's two years at the Centre. There was no evidence to suggest that comparable provision is likely to result in any significant improvement in H's literacy skills.
"G. Whilst the Tribunal has doubts as the benefit to H of more of the same type of provision, we have no means of predicting what he might achieve in the highly regarded resource base at Monks Park. We share the confidence of all of the witnesses at the hearing as to the high quality of that provision. There is no evidence to suggest that H's progress would be any greater if he were to be placed elsewhere.
"H. The Tribunal appreciates the concerns for H's self-confidence. We do not, however, accept that these concerns can only be addressed in a residential placement.
"I. At the end of the day, the Tribunal was faced with a very difficult decision and we are indebted to D for her very considerable cooperation with the LEA and Monks Park School that enabled the Tribunal to consider all possible evidence in reaching a decision. We are also indebted to Ms Coull for her detailed evidence regarding the provision at the resource base in Monk's Park. We were persuaded by her evidence. On balance we conclude that Monks Park's resource base can provide appropriately for H. In so doing we note the flexibility of the provision and accept that within the setting of the resource it would be impractical to quantify or specify that provision. Whilst we cannot predict the level of progress H will make, we are satisfied that the provision is both appropriate and adequate to meet his needs.
"J. We do not consider that the additional amendments proposed to Part Three of the Statement are necessary as we are of the opinion that the provision is properly described within the agreed statement. For a child of H's extreme level of difficulty we consider that it is acceptable in the circumstances for the modern language requirement of the National Curriculum to be disapplied."