QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF MRS L R||(CLAIMANT)|
|LONDON BOROUGH OF WALTHAM FOREST|
|SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS AND DISABILITY TRIBUNAL||(DEFENDANTS)|
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MR J MILFORD (instructed by Waltham Forest, EduAction) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
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(1) the evidence in question was not contradicted such that the Tribunal's contrary conclusions unsupported by evidence are perverse;
(2) the Tribunal unlawfully failed to give proper reasons for rejecting that evidence, including for not accepting the expert evidence of Mrs Burgess on the point; and
(3) insofar as the Tribunal relied on its own expertise in the matter, the Tribunal unlawfully failed to give the appellant an opportunity to deal with that evidence.
"An environmental and teaching plan which operates on a finely tuned behavioural model in order to teach him early learning, socialisation and language skills which most children learn through play. Most importantly he needs very focused training to increase his attention focus and reduce his inappropriate learning behaviours, and this focus needs to be part of each teaching element . . .
"Observations would indicate that G is not benefiting from incidental learning from modelling on the other children and that he actually needs to build up a learned social repertoire, which is then practised, to consolidate that learning."
She stated that G would need:
"Tuition delivered on a tightly organised behavioural schedule in an environment with minimal distraction.
"One-one tuition delivered by an ABA consultant who will be trained and monitored according to their professional recommendations."
An ABA consultant would be a person who would deliver the LOVAAS programme.
" ... discussions at [the school] indicated they do not offer the particular style or approach for which Mrs L is searching and which [she] believe[s] is likely to support G more fully at the moment in learning to respond, socialise and learn."
It was also said in the "facts" section that G was not benefiting from incidental learning. The passage which I have quoted from Ms Burgess's written report is in substance set out again.
"c. The amendments requested to Part 3 of the statement specify an ABA/LOVAAS programme delivered at home apart from one morning attendance a week at a maintained school. We have proceeded to consider whether or not G's needs can be met in a school and if they are met at [his school].
D. We have considered G's IEP in the light of comments made by Mrs L and by Mrs Burgess. The IEP contains evidence of autism specific approaches, indeed Mrs Burgess noted relevant specialist programmes that are used. She made several criticisms of the teaching environment and cast some doubt on the specialist training and expertise of G's class teacher. This was not accepted by Ms Joseph who stated that the school's purpose is to meet the needs of pupils such as G.
E. We accept that the annual review reports for June 2001 and June 2002 indicate progress. This is based on the P scale scores which clearly show an increase in the skills measured and the descriptive comments in the reports.
F. We conclude that G has progressed at [his school], his progress over the time he has been there is adequate taking into account his assessed learning difficulties, provision at [the school] is meeting his needs.
G. Following f, we are satisfied that G's needs can be met at a school. He is at [his school], and it is practical and appropriate that he continues there. Bearing in mind section 319 of the Education Act 1996, it is not necessary for us to consider whether his needs should be met by home provision as provision in school is appropriate."
"P scores -- all below level 1 represent smaller increments of improvement. Eg, reading, for example -- still needed adult to focus on it. Writing gone up two levels, but can't write 'G' without an adult helping. I am unclear as to what areas he has advanced or whether valid or appropriate other than maturity."
"Progress P scores do represent small increments of improvement. Nature of programme being suggested depends on very small steps. Regression -- the nature of autism is this -- description of child who starts off well and then loses skills -- this is autism -- not that [the school] is not working."