Russell Holland
Posted on 15 Mar 2016

Children and Families Act 2014 and Special Educational Needs

It is now almost 18 months since the provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014 (CFA 2014) came into force. This means that between now and 2018 all children with a statement of special educational needs should transition to an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan). 

While the Local Offer provided for by the CFA 2014 is not legally binding, it was the subject of a successful judicial review in R (LP) v Warwickshire [2015] EWHC 203 (Admin). So it is important for Local Authorities to ensure that the statutory process is correctly followed when producing their Local Offer under this Act.

Legal issues in relation to the test for having a statutory assessment and making a plan have not yet been the subject of a judgment.  So the advice to Local Authorities and Schools involved in this process is to follow the Code of Practice and make evidence based decisions following the relevant regulations and previous case law.

The perennial issues of calculating the costs of school placements continues to apply and was the subject of an important Upper Tribunal case of Hammersmith v Fulham & others [2015] UKUT 0523 (AAC). This deals with the £10,000 of funding for pre-planned places and how it is taken into account when calculating costs as part of selecting the placement.

In terms of future issues there is a pilot, effective from the 1 April 2015, extending rights of appeal to the Tribunal, to children and young people up to the age of 18 in custody. No appeals have yet been made so this is an area which is likely to develop.

In addition from 1 June 2015 there is a pilot for at least 12 months which will enable the Tribunal to make recommendations in respect of health and care issues.

So overall for Schools there do not appear to be any key new legal issues. Currently Schools should continue to follow the Code of Practice.

For more information please contact Russell Holland at