Council wins appeal over transport and Education, Health and Care Plans

A local authority has won an appeal to the Upper Tribunal over the inclusion in an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) of the costs of transport to and from a specified place of education.

The issues before Judge Lane in Staffordshire County Council v JM (Special educational needs: Other) [2016] UKUT 246 (AAC) were:

(i) whether the cost of transport to and from the place of education specified in an Education, Health and Care Plan (‘EHCP’) is either a special educational need or special educational provision for the purposes of the Children and Families Act 2014;

(ii) whether a local authority has any duty under section 508F of the Education Act 1996 to pay transportation costs to facilitate attendance at further education of an adult learner over the age of 19 but under 25 years of age who has an EHC Plan; and

(iii) whether the First-tier Tribunal had any jurisdiction to order a local authority to pay for transportation costs which it had refused, as a matter of its discretion, to pay.

H was a 21-year-old woman who lives with her parents. The sole institution named in her EHCP was rather distant from her home.

The county council took the view that, because of H’s age, it did not have an absolute duty to make and pay for H’s travel to and from school. It considered that it only had to do so if it considered it to be necessary (s. 508F, Education Act 1996 as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014).

Ruling in favour of Staffordshire, Judge Lane said the EHC Plan should be amended to exclude reference to H having a special educational needs or requiring special educational provision for transportation to and from the named educational institution.

He added: “The EHC Plan shall be amended to exclude any reference to an obligation of the local authority to arrange for the provision and cost of any transport that H may need to get to and from the named educational institution.”

The judge concluded that the F-tT had no jurisdiction over the transportation. That was a matter for the local authority under Section 508F.

James Goudie QC of 11KBW appeared for the county council, instructed by Guy Darvill.

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