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Jill's story

I strongly suspect that we wouldn’t have achieved the result we did without Leigh Day – Jill Steed
My name is Jill Steed and I live with my husband and my son and daughter. My son David is nearly 18 and was born with serious health problems including scoliosis, a heart condition and global development delay.  He had lots of surgery as a baby but it now in reasonable physical health.  Most of David’s problems now are behavioural, he has a tendency to self-traumatise, we think because of communication problems.

One of the drawbacks of David not having a particular label about his condition is that many special schools only attract funding for places if the person has a named condition such as Downs’ Syndrome, we have no idea of David’s future development prognosis.

We became very frustrated with the education system’s ability to cope with David’s very special needs.  At junior help he was offered the support of therapists to help, for example, with his mobility but there seemed to be no joined up thinking by the local authority as far as help out of school hours was concerned.  Any progress David made during term time was lost during the breaks.  The local authority would not consider changing David’s school to a residential school with a 24 hour waking day curriculum.  We really felt that the education service had failed David through a lack of a consistent approach to his needs.

After speaking to other parents about challenging the local authority’s decision not to change David’s school we decided we did not want to try and represent ourselves at the tribunal. I was very confident that Leigh Day was experienced in this specialised area, and felt very happy leaving the matter in their hands.

Specialist education solicitor Alison Millar has a special interest in education and disability discrimination.  She took David’s case on and my impression of the whole team was that they were unusually caring and that David really mattered to them. The case took nearly a year and the local authority fought hard because the cost of David’s education was great.  The tribunal ruled in David’s favour in terms of round the clock provision and are so happy for him.  We fell much more optimistic about his future and hope that his behavioural problems should decrease, if not disappear completely.  He won’t need sedating and he will have a much better quality of life.

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