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Appealing school at tribunal- what happens if we lose(6 Posts)
I had a free SN solicitor consultant the other night
The LA are in dispute with us over which SN school. We want a closer independent school and they want their own school which is much further away
The solicitor advised that if we lose we can insist she go back to mainstream and not to their school
Is this true! I would feel very relieved if it is the case
That's not really correct. If the tribunal finds in favour of the LA school, that is what is named in the EHCP and, if it is a special school, you can't remove your child from the school roll without the LA's permission.
You could however go back to the LA and say that you prefer a mainstream school to be named. They have a duty to meet your preference for that school unless it would be incompatible with efficient education of other children and unless there are no adjustments they can make to get over that incompatibility. So in theory they would have to agree - however, if they choose not to, you would have to go back to the tribunal again and there would be a further 14 weeks' delay (at least) before the issue is decided, during which your child would presumably have to go to the LA special school.
Sorry, should have said - I guess you might be able to home educate whilst waiting for the second appeal, but it would depend on the LA agreeing.
Is there any other fall back position
I'm so scared of losing
I've heard of people giving two options in their appeal - say that they consider special school X is much better able to meet their child's needs than the LA's special school Y, but in the event that the tribunal disagrees then they will ask it to name mainstream school Z because in their view that is still preferable to school Y. I think what happens then is that the tribunal concentrates on X and Y, but if they decide on Y then there is a second hearing to make a decision between Y and Z. At that hearing the rules about parental preference for a mainstream school that I mentioned above will come into play.
Have you found out what the cost of sending your child to LA school is compared to the cost of the independent, factoring in different transport costs (presumably lower at nearby school) Is that an argument you can use? And terms are shorter at indie, meaning again lower transport cost.
Also stress to child of further school, long day etc?
These all could be used as arguments at Tribunal, but I do not know what your Indie costs.
If you look at your child's assessments/professional reports from Ed Pysch OT etc, are there any sentences that you can use to prove that the LA school is unsuitable, whereas Indie school is more suitable? Peer group, specialist teaching, small classes, environment, curriculum? I remember someone at IPSEA saying to me she had won at Tribunal because the indie school she wanted had a farm, and she was able to use the evidence that her daughter needed a holistic learning environment to argue that they needed a school with a farm! I think you have to go through with a toothcomb looking at the provision in both schools and say why one is not just more suitable but why only one meets the needs of your child. Something about the LA school will not meet her needs, that is what you have to pinpoint, whether it is anxiety over long journey, outside local area for friendships.
This is what Parent Partnership advised us too, focus on what is only provided by the school you want, and make sure her needs are defined fully that the school you want is the only school that meets those needs.
For example when we didn't want ds to go to x school we pointed out that there was no clear behaviour policy on the school website that ds could understand (it was all very woolly and talked about responsibilities and community), and that he needed very clear rules whereas the school we wanted had the behaviour policy in black and white (ie when you chew you get a negative point, 3 negative equals a detention). They were both mainstreams but that is a good example of how we worded our request for y school, even if our real reasons were far more of a "gut feeling" - x was raucous hurly burly and y was a calm ordered atmosphere. We didn't say that. We talked about no of kids in x and no of kids in y (far less)
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