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court of Appeal reserves judgment in important SEN case

20 October 2011

A father of a child with Down's Syndrome is challenging a local authority's (LA) decision to cease funding his 22 year old daughter's education. He wants her education to continue until she is 25.

This case will hopefully clarify LA obligations around when they can lawfully cease to maintain a statement of SEN. Current guidance recommends LAs maintain statements until the age of 19. Yet the proportion of children and young adults with Down’s Syndrome staying longer in schools continues to increase. If the Court of Appeal decides that a LA should educate a pupil with SEN until they reach 25, it will force LAs to carefully examine the provision for these individuals alongside younger students, both practically (e.g. safeguarding) and financially.

The outcome of this case is awaited by many interested parties. However, the Court of Appeal have rightly reserved judgement to a later date. This case will require careful scrutiny and a sound grasp of the wide-ranging consequences on all those affected by the decision.

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