Image caption

Families gathered outside the High Court in London in June

The High Court is due to rule on a landmark legal challenge to the government’s approach to providing special educational needs and disabilities (Send) funding.

The legal action has been brought by three children with Send on behalf of others who also rely on the funding.

Their lawyers previously told the court there was a crisis in Send funding that could “blight their lives forever”.

The government said it was investing significantly into high-needs budgets.

Nico Heugh Simone, 15, of Robertsbridge, East Sussex, Dakota Riddell, nine, of Birmingham, and Benedict McFinnigan, 14, of Scarborough, are acting through their mothers.

Jenni Richards QC, who is representing the families, told the court at a hearing in June there was “clear and incontrovertible evidence” of a “substantial national shortfall” in funding.

Ms Richards said:

  • Former Chancellor Philip Hammond had acted unlawfully in setting the national budget in October 2018
  • Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds had acted unlawfully when making available additional but “manifestly insufficient” Send funding in December

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Dakota and her mother, Mary, are one of the families bringing the case

She told Mr Justice Lewis they had failed to account for the “nature and extent of the crisis” in Send funding when making those decisions.

Ms Richards said Department for Education statistics showed “rising demand” for Send funding, which had “not been matched by anything like a commensurate increase in funding”.

The families are seeking a declaration the government’s approach to Send funding is unlawful, which they say will require ministers to consider increasing the amount available.

Government lawyers, opposing the legal action, argued the increase in demand had been recognised by the ministers and Mr Hinds had “made it clear” high needs would be one of his priorities ahead of the 2019 spending review.

The case has been supported by campaign network Send Action, which held a demonstration outside the Royal Courts of Justice ahead of the June hearing, as well as charities Mencap and the National Deaf Childrens’ Society (NDCS).

Mr Justice Lewis will give his judgement on the case in London later on Monday morning.

The High Court has previously rejected cases brought by families of children with special educational needs against Hackney and Surrey councils.



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