Aileen McColgan and Tom Cross in rare and important SEN judicial review

February 5th, 2019

The High Court yesterday handed down judgment in R (An Academy) v Medway Council and Secretary of State for Education. This was a comparatively rare judicial review challenge in the area of special educational needs; many such disputes are dealt with in the specialist tribunal.

A school had been named by the council in the Education and Health Care Plan of a child who had previously had a plan in Greenwich which made extensive provision to meet his needs (in section F of the Plan). The school challenged the Plan as unlawful, significantly because the council had, upon transfer, eviscerated section F to the extent that it appeared that the school was suitable for the child (which the school did not accept).

The Court accepted that the Council had acted irrationally in eviscerating the Plan, and that it had failed to comply with its consultation obligations to the school. The upshot was that the Plan was quashed and the Greenwich plan reinstated with the full suite of special educational provision in section F.

The Secretary of State participated as an Interested Party in the case to make submissions on the correct interpretation of the Children and Families Act 2014, in particular as it relates to the right of children and young persons with special educational needs to access mainstream education. The Court accepted the Secretary of State’s analysis of the way the legislation works: see especially paragraphs [93]-[96].

The case accordingly provides important general guidance on the interpretation of the law.

Aileen McColgan represented the School and Tom Cross the Secretary of State for Education.

You can read the judgment here.

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