Bristol parents successfully challenge Local Authority SEND budget cuts
Two sets of parents have recently taken Bristol City Council to court for a judicial review of the council’s continuing cuts to funding for pupils with SEND (Special Educational Needs & Disabilities). The first case of its kind, the basis of the challenge is the cuts in funding are unlawful, as pupils with SEND are unable to receive suitable support to enable them to attend school and have their needs met.
Some pupils with SEND will have Education, Health and Care Plans maintained for them by the council, who are responsible for funding and delivering any special educational provision set out in these Plans. However, for those pupils without EHC Plans parents often face an ongoing challenge to secure suitable provisions through school and council resources.
One of the parents bringing the case against Bristol City Council commented that after funding was cut, meaning her son’s school could no longer keep their Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo), her son not only found it difficult to follow the lessons but was also subject to exclusions. All children are entitled to receive an education that is suitable for their needs, and schools need to make reasonable adjustments to account for any pupils’ disabilities. Excluding pupils with SEND is not an example of a reasonable adjustment, and as a result, parents are left to support their children with limited resources.
Sadly, this is not a one-off case, and the publicity surrounding this very important legal challenge case highlights that action must be taken to address Local Authority cuts, not just across Bristol but nationally.
The court has upheld the parents’ appeal and found the Local Authority’s cuts to SEND funding to be unlawful. We hope this will initiate a turning point for the support and funding available for pupils with SEND, as well as reassurance for their parents.
If you have concerns about your child’s needs or lack of provision within their school to meet their needs, Watkins Solicitors have a history of successfully advising parents of children with SEND and can be contacted on the details below:
Tel: 0117 939 0350
Beverley Watkins (Partner/Education Specialist): firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Smith (Education Advisor): email@example.com
Lydia Dunford (Trainee Solicitor): firstname.lastname@example.org