Pro-bono success for the National Deaf Children’s Society before the Upper Tribunal in case concerning the naming of a specialist deaf school

Hearing loop Kid

The Upper Tribunal refused permission against the naming of a specialist deaf school which was not registered under s.41 of the Children and Families Act 2014 for a deaf pupil and therefore no statutory presumption in favour of parents’ choice applied.

The First Tier Tribunal had held that the school proposed by the Local Authority was inappropriate for the pupil and therefore the First Tier Tribunal named the specialist provision preferred by pupil’s parents. The Local Authority argued that the First Tier Tribunal had misapplied s.9 of the Education Act 1996 when it named the specialist provision rather than allowing the Local Authority a further chance to name an alternative school.

The Upper Tribunal ruled that it was not arguable that the First Tier Tribunal materially misapplied the law; whilst the First Tier Tribunal may have partially misled themselves in that if there is only one school considered appropriate they had to name it, the Upper Tribunal accepted the parents’ argument that any error would not have made a material difference in this case given the urgent need to place the pupil at an appropriate school notwithstanding the significant funding requirement for the specialist provision.

Parents were also able to argue that all remaining challenges were matters of professional judgment within the exclusive purview of the specialist First-Tier Tribunal.

Parents were represented by Joe Thomas on a pro-bono basis who was instructed by the National Deaf Children’s Society.

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