QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
| MARTIN HILL
|- and -
BEDFORDSHRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Mr Oliver Hyams for the Defendant
Hearing date: 30/04/2007
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice Wyn Williams:
"As you are aware from both the school and ourselves, Cademuir School, that Martin was attending, has closed. We have, in the meantime, and with your knowledge and agreement, been investigating all alternative schools and colleges in Scotland, which are able to support Martin and maintain this current Scottish education regime.
Marin has now visited all the options which we have researched and he has expressed his opinion as to Elmwood College Cupar, as being the most suitable for him. They, in turn, have made a conditional offer based on Martin's exams results being a minimum four passes at Standard Grade, inclusive of English. These examination results are expected to be known on the 8th of August 2006, from SQA.
The new college term/year commences on Monday 4th September 2006 with arrivals being on the Sunday [3rd]. This means there will only be one month between knowing the examination results and the new term start.
I would, therefore, ask the Council to agree the ongoing funding, by the end of July 2006, in line with their letter to Cademuir School, 6th February 2006. Obviously it will be based on the conditional element, inserted by Elmwood, for the appropriate level of examination results being satisfied.
Elmwood have reviewed Martin's current Statement of SEN, his previous school reports and the information provided by the SENCo from Cademuir.
They have constructed a package of support based on the needs, as they believe necessary to meet those needs
The cost of the above package is £35,139.36 ."
"Also this week I have contacted the DfES for advice as it is my understanding that in England, when students go on to Further Education (FE) colleges their Statements of Special Educational Needs cease to be maintained by the Local Authority. FE Colleges are funded through a different mechanism to schools by the Learning and Skills Council. The DfES promised to investigate the situation but I have not heard back from them yet. I will contact them again in the middle of next week when I am back in the office next if no reply is forthcoming by Wednesday 16 August"
" The position of the Local Authority is that if Martin had remained at Cademuir International School we would have continued to support him, as identified in his statement, to complete his course of study at the school. It is pleasing to note on the information you have provided that Martin was able to complete all those courses he has started at the school. If another school is requested or identified, that would meet his needs as outlined in his statement and at a similar cost, we could amend Martin's statement and provide funding for a further year until Martin is 19. The Authority has not proposed to cease Martin's statement. However, the provision you have identified is not a school and we have no statutory powers to fund FE colleges. Our legal advice and the DfES have confirmed this and a meeting could not change the LA's stance on this. However, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss alternative school options for Martin'seducation.
We therefore understand the options to be:
- For another school that could meet Martin's needs to be identified until he is 19.
- For LSC (Learning Skills Council) to be approached to fund your choice of FE college.
- For Martin to attend a local college placement.
- For Martin to work with Connections service to support him in entering the world of work."
" .My understanding is that your difference of opinion with the Council is not about whether Martin qualifies for support under the [the Education (Student Support) Regulations 2006], but rather whether the Council is obliged to name Elmwood in Martin's Statement of Special Educational Needs in place of Cademuir International School and meet the full cost of Martin's education and accommodation at the College during the forthcoming academic year."
He then continued:
"Martin is now 18. He is no longer a registered pupil at the school and he is not therefore a child for whom the local educational authority is responsible under section 321 of Education Act 1996.
You have pointed out that when the SENDIST directed the Council to specify Cademuir International School in Martin's Statement, they commented favourably on the fact that Martin would be able to remain at the school until he was 19 years old and this would provide him with consistency of post-16 education and would assist in making up the educational deficit that Martin had experienced at that date. Unfortunately, Cademuir closed in July 2006 and thus he was unable to remain at the school for a further year. The Tribunal's comment did not impose an obligation on the Council to make provision for Martin up to the age of 19 in circumstances where he was no longer attending Cademuir International School.
Once a young person is over compulsory school age and leaves school, then responsibility for his special educational needs passes to the Connexions Service and the Leaning and Skills Council
As I understand it, a further point that requires clarification is the nature of Elmwood College, whether it is a college of further education or whether it is (or could be treated as though it were) a school for the purpose of Martin's education there
.I have set out the statutory provision above and I am satisfied on this basis that Elmwood College is not school. As far as Martin's future education is concerned, I am also of the view that this is not now the responsibility of the Council as local educational authority, though I accept that, if and when he enrols on a course of higher education, he may be eligible for a student loan under the Education (Students Support) Regulations 2006 and that the LEA administer this process.
In short, my view of the position is when Martin left Cademuir International School at the age of 18 the Council's responsibility to maintain a statement of special educational needs for him came to an end. Responsibility for his future education and special needs passed to the Learning and Skills Council and Connexions.
The procedure for ceasing to maintain a Statement is set out in paragraph 11 of the Education Act 1996, but this procedure does not apply where the local educational authority ceased to maintain a statement for a child who has ceased to be a child for whom they are responsible. In this situation, the LEA can cease to maintain a Statement under paragraph 9 of the Schedule 27 of the Education Act 1996 and there is no right of appeal to the SENDIST."
"(a) To make a decision, setting out full reasons, whether or not to fund Martin at Elmwood College using the powers as set out in the Education Act 1996, section 15A and the Local Government Act 2000 under section 2.
(b) Confirm that Martin's statement has not lapsed and put in place the provision which should be made to him."
"It appears from the contact that Mr Hill had with Connexions that there was no evidence that Mr Hill required Connexions to undertake a section 140 assessment under the Learning and Skills Act 2000. Mr Hill and Martin were clearly signposted by the Local Authority (see the statement of Diane Boyd dated 7.2.2007) to Connections which gave them advice and guidance. It does not appear that Mr Hill approached the LSC to fund Martin's placement and the Local Authority considers that that is he should have done."
"(1) If, in the light of an assessment made under section 323 of any child's educational needs and of any representations made by the child's parents in pursuance of Schedule 27, it is necessary for the local education authority to determine the special educational provision which any learning difficulty he may have calls for, the authority shall make and maintain a statement of his special education needs."
By virtue of section 324(7), Schedule 27 is to have effect in relation to the making and maintenance of statements under the section. There is no dispute in this case that the Claimant was a child within section 324(1) when a statement of special educational needs was first made in relation to him.
"(3) For the purposes of this part of the Act the Local Education Authority are responsible for a child if he is in their area and
(a) he is a registered pupil at a maintained school,
(b) education is provided for him at a school which is not a maintained school but is so provided at the expense of the authority,
(c ) he does not come within paragraph (a) or (b) above but is a registered pupil at a school and has been brought to the authority's attention as having or probably having special educational needs, or
(d) he is not a registered pupil at a school but is not under the age of 2 or over the compulsory school age and has been brought to their attention as having or probably having special educational needs."