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Crowdfunding being increasingly used to challenge education cuts

Parents up and down the country are using Crowd justice – a form of crowdfunding, to fund challenges to local authorities cutting special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision reports the Guardian.

With greater pressures being places on local authorities from central government over budgets, many families with disabled children are seeing special educational support being stripped away as part of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCP). The challenges usually arise over specialist transport provision, speech and language therapy (SALT) and one-to-one support in mainstream schools.

However there is a growing resistance to this and the newspaper tells the story of Alicia McColl and her son, Kian who suffers from autism. Alicia questioned Surrey County Council over their budget cuts and has raised £2,600 through crowdfunding in order to judicially review and challenge the cuts.

This is not the first case of this kind with a further crowdfunding judicial review in Hackney already proving to be successful in fighting a cut to the disability education budget.

To illustrate the problem further, the National Education Union point to government statistics showing that more than 4,000 SEND children were awaiting a school placement last year. This is double the year previous with the blame being attributed to there not being sufficient resources for mainstream schools to support disabled children. As a result many children find themselves being schooled at home by parents.

Children with special educational needs are entitled to an education that meets their needs. The whole purpose of removing statements and replacing them with EHCP’s was to ensure that from the earliest possible moment there was a clear pathway between differing agencies to ensure both educational and health needs are met and articulated in one document.

Determinations of how needs are met and what provisions are required should always be needs-led and not financially driven. Ultimately if decisions are being made in this manner, it exposes local authorities to the threat of judicial review from parents, as any decision could be considered unlawful by the courts.

At Moore Blatch we have specialist and dedicated education and public law teams who can advise you on the merits of a judicial review if your child is facing a budget cut. Please contact Paula Barnes on 02380 718195 for a non-obligation discussion.

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