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School placement success for Leigh Day client

Luke Humphreys, a client of human rights partner Alison Millar, was delighted when Alison succeeded in her challenge to obtain a place for him in an appropriate school.

Luke Humphreys in his school uniform

4 October 2006

Alison Millar, partner in the human rights department at Leigh Day & Co, recently successfully settled a case at the door of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

The case concerned Alison's client, Luke Humphreys, who was in his last year at primary school when Alison was instructed to issue an appeal to the Special Educational Needs & Disability Tribunal, which is set up to consider disputes about children's special educational needs.

Luke suffers from mild cerebral palsy but was able to attend a mainstream primary school in Kent with the help of ten hours teaching assistance per week.  However, Luke did not particularly enjoy primary school as he has significant literacy and numeracy difficulties, which can be described as dyspraxia, dyslexia, and dyscalculia.  He also has difficulties with recall and comprehension.   Understandably, these conditions undermined Luke's self-confidence in a mainstream setting as he found it difficult to concentrate in noisy classrooms, or to work independently.  It was also difficult for Luke to make friends with his peers.

Luke's family initially hoped that Luke would be able to attend a mainstream secondary school, The Archbishop's School, Canterbury, as long as the local education authority was able to provide a suitable support package for him.  Alison was initially involved with the family as they pushed for this support, but it became clear as correspondence between the school and the family developed, that the mainstream option was not going to be the best choice for Luke.

It emerged that The Archbishop's School was only able to offer one hour's help per week for literacy and numeracy.  This fact, combined with the likelihood that at a mainstream school Luke would be at significant risk of social isolation and bullying led Luke's family to believe that Luke's needs would be better met at a specialist school for dyslexic children, which was experienced with dealing with children with low academic confidence, and could offer the small, supporting environment that he requires. An Independent Educational Psychologist instructed by Mr. Humphreys suggested two schools which met the required criteria, one of which was East Court School, an independent school specialising in the care and education of dyslexic children. The school, based in Ramsgate, is accredited by the Council for the Registration for Schools Teaching Dyslexic Pupils (CReSTeD).

Kent Education Authority (KEA) resisted the suggestion that Luke should attend East Court School stating that the Archbishop's School would be able to cope with Luke's special needs, or failing that, suggested that unit-based provision (a special needs unit attached to a mainstream school) would also be sufficient for Luke.  However, the education authority agreed to a last-minute change of plan at the door of the tribunal that was due to hear Luke's appeal in September 2006.  KEA will now pay for Luke to attend East Court School for the next two years and will also make a contribution to his travel costs.

Luke is very pleased with his new school, especially the fact that he is now on a school football team.

For more information please contact human rights partner, Alison Millar on 020 7650 1200.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

Information was correct at time of publishing. See terms and conditions for further details.

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