Education and Support Secured for a Young Person with Dyslexia and Severe Anxiety
M is now 13 years old and has a diagnosis of dyslexia and suffers with anxiety and low self-esteem.
From a young age, it was clear to M’s parents that M required additional support above what was available within his mainstream school. Whilst M is cognitively able, M has also struggled to make academic progress despite receiving additional support and M’s parents doing everything they can to support him. Furthermore, from a young age M suffered with severe anxiety and low self-esteem. These difficulties were the result of the difficulties M was facing daily in his mainstream school environment. M was disengaged with school and had completely hit rock bottom. M’s parents had a daily battle to get M to school and he was often distressed and extremely unhappy.
Mr and Mrs H contacted HCB solicitors in June 2019 when their Local Authority refused to carry out an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment for M. At this time M was in receipt of an Additional Needs Plan which provided him extra support within his mainstream setting. However, M’s Additional Needs Plan was doing very little to help M and he spent most of his break times alone in the Speech and Language Therapy Room which M felt was a safe and quiet space. Unfortunately, during this time M was experiencing difficulties with low moods and self-esteem and he was therefore referred to CAMHS.
We lodged an Appeal immediately with the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal and the Local Authority quickly conceded this first Appeal. An Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment was then carried out by the Local Authority and the Local Authority subsequently issued a draft EHCP during August 2019.
Unfortunately, the draft EHCP was vague and non-specific. There was no proper evaluation of M’s language difficulties, no detailed clarification in terms of where M was functioning in regards to his basic literacy and numeracy abilities, no statement as to where M was functioning across the curriculum and how far behind his peers he was and very little information regarding M’s emotional difficulties and his poor self-esteem. We immediately wrote to the Local Authority expressing our concerns in relation to the draft EHCP and made representations in respect of Sections B, F and I. Due to the difficulties M was experiencing in his mainstream school, it was Mr and Mrs H’s preference for M to attend a highly specialist provision for pupils with literacy and language difficulties. We therefore reiterated within our representations to the Local Authority why this school needed to be named within Section I of M’s EHCP.
Upon receipt of our letter of representations the Local Authority issued a final EHCP during September 2019. Upon receiving the final EHCP it was evident that the Local Authority had paid minimal attention to the parental or young person’s representations. The Local Authority refused to name the specialist placement and named a mainstream further education provider in Section I of M’s EHCP.
This resulted in a second Tribunal Appeal being lodged and further evidence obtained by the family in the form of an independent educational psychology and an independent speech and language therapy report, and assessment information from the specialist school, where M had completed a successful trial and been offered a place.
The Local Authority continued to oppose the Appeal on the grounds that the placement was unreasonable use of public expenditure and that their named school was more than capable of providing a suitable setting for M.
The Appeal was finally heard in March 2020, at which we represented M. M was successful and a fully funded place at the independent specialist school was ordered by the Tribunal, with a finding that the further education provider suggested by the Local Authority was not suitable for the following reasons:
- Despite the best endeavours of the Local Authority’s mainstream school it was evident that M was not making appropriate progress.
- Whilst M was receiving some specialist dyslexia input, at his mainstream placement, the placement was not able to deliver the level of specialist dyslexia teaching and the environment that M required to be educated within.
- Despite the specialist placement requiring much more public expenditure than if M were to stay at his mainstream placement, the Tribunal found that due to his mainstream placement not being able to meet his needs the Tribunal did not consider such expenditure to be unreasonable.
In addition, the Tribunal ordered that Section F of M’s EHCP should provide for direct weekly speech and language therapy to be delivered by a suitable qualified speech and language therapist.
Mr and Mrs H contacted HCB Solicitors shortly after the successful result and stated that M was over the moon about going to his new specialist placement and he could not wait to get back to school. Mr and Mrs H explained that this will be a new chapter for M and they looked forward to seeing how he blossoms at his specialist placement.
If you have faced similar difficulties, contact our specialist education solicitors on 0333 202 7175.