Disabled children v Secretary of State for Education and Chancellor of the Exchequer

ALLFIE will be attending this important court case on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th June. Put it in your diaries – come and join us from 9am onwards and show your support for disabled children and their families as they fight for proper support.

Easy read version of this page.

What does this court case concern?

As many of us know, the deficit in funding is having a dramatic impact on disabled pupils’ well-being and experiences within our generally underfunded education system. Disabled children need high-quality teaching, support, facilities and other SEND provisions to thrive in education. Local councils estimate that there could be a national deficit in high-needs spending of between £1.2 billion and £1.6 billion by 2021 unless the Government plugs the gap. This Government needs to know that high-quality inclusive education practices do not come cheap.

Families are saying enough is enough – these cuts cannot continue if their children are being denied access to education. Three families are taking the Secretary of State for Education and the Chancellor of the Exchequer to court. For more information about the struggle of Nico and Lorraine Heugh, Benedict and Kirsty McFinnigan and Dakota and Mary Riddell, see Irwin Mitchell for more details.

The judge is being asked whether the Government’s special education needs funding allocation – which does not cover the true costs of arranging the provisions disabled pupils require within their school settings – is lawful and adheres to their civil and human rights.

Why is the court case important?

The Government has signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These international human rights treaties place duties upon the state, local authorities and state-funded schools to develop inclusive education practices. We all know that the lack of financial resources can mean that local authorities and schools are failing to do so.

Why is ALLFIE supporting this case?

ALLFIE has decided to support this SEND action case because the court has been asked to consider whether the Government’s SEND funding policy is lawful in terms of having regard for:

  • The advancement of equality of opportunity between disabled and non-disabled pupils under the Equality Act 2010 public sector equality duty.
  • The Children and Young Persons Act 2008 s (7): the inadequacy of current SEND provisions is detrimental to the well-being of disabled pupils.
  • The promotion of disabled pupils’ human right to mainstream education free from disability-related discrimination, as set out in the ECHR Article 14, read with UNCRPD Article 24.

What has ALLFIE’s contribution been?

We are delighted that SEND Family Action and Irwin Mitchell have succeeded in securing a judicial review case involving key civil and human rights arguments that ALLFIE uses within our day-to-day work with families, disabled students and our allies and when lobbying for changes in education and equality law and policy.

What outcome would ALLFIE like to see from the court case?

We want the court to make an explicit declaration that the Government’s inadequate SEND funding allocation policy is unlawful because there is a shortfall in securing the SEND provisions that disabled pupils require to flourish within mainstream education on a par with their non-disabled peers.

We want the court to issue guidance making it very clear that the Government must ensure that there is sufficient funding for schools and local authorities to allow them to fulfil their legal duties to promote the presumption of mainstream education free from disability-related discrimination under the Equality Act, ECHR Article 14 and its UNCRPD Article 24 duties and obligations.

How can you support the court case?

ALLFIE will be attending the court case on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th June. We would like you to come and join us from 9am onwards and show your support for Nico and Lorraine Heugh, Benedict and Kirsty McFinnigan and Dakota and Mary Riddell.

Address: Royal Court of Justice, Strand, London WC2A 2LL (map)


There are 2 responses

  1. Comment by Alex
    Gravatar of Alex
    Alex · 12 June 2019

    The Government can pass all the nicely-worded equality legislation it wants but without real accountability to hold Public Bodies responsible, then they will remain nice words.

    A few years ago our local authority removed 52 Learning Support Assistant positions from schools throughout the region and spun that action as an improvement in service!

    As I forecast at that time, the removal of so many LSAs from schools resulted in a huge additional strain placed on teachers who were never trained to deal with pupils who require ASL.

    This also had a massively negative impact on the non-disabled children in the class, as teachers had to spend additional time with ASL pupils.


  2. Comment by simone aspis
    Gravatar of simone aspis
    simone aspis · 12 June 2019

    Alex yep its shocking – clearly funding cuts are having a real negative impact upon disabled pupils access to inclusive education. Cuts to education, mental and physical health and care services are having a negative impact upon mainstream schools to be inclusive of all. If anyone else wants to share their experiences of how the cuts are impacting upon disabled pupils inclusion in mainstream education do share them with us. Thanks


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