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Tribunal rulings;Judgements

These are some recent rulings by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal:

The parents of a boy of eight who had already successfully appealed against their LEA's refusal to assess him were now appealing against its refusal to make a statement. He had been given a Note in Lieu and provided with learning support in core subjects plus two individual lessons a week. The tribunal ruled that some additional support was still needed to give him a cohesive programme. But, it dismissed the appeal, saying that suitable help could be given without a statement.

A school argued that a boy of 10 with literacy and behavioural difficulties, who attended a special unit two days a week, had specific learning disabilities and needed assessment. The LEA maintained that his difficulties were general. The tribunal said that the school could not make appropriate provision from its own resources without a clearer understanding of the boy'sdifficulties and ordered the assessment.

A local educational authority had refused assessment for a boy of six with attention deficit hyperactivy disorder who was on Ritalin and whose family had involved psychologists and child services. The lea was ordered to arrange an assessment.

The tribunal dismissed an appeal by parents when their LEArefused to re-assess the needs of a 15-year-old girl with moderate learning disabilities and some physical and social problems. It said that the progress she had made had been well documented by the school, that she was correctly placed and that a new assessment would not provide further knowledge.

A moderately autistic boy of four had been following the programme designed by Dr I O Lovaas at home. His progress had been marked and his parents wanted him to go to a mainstream school. The tribunal refused to comment on the relative merits of Lovaas and another programe for autism, but ordered that the statement should specify provision of Lovaas at home and part-time attendance at a special nursery unit.

Parents appealed for a mainstream placement when their LEA directed their five-year-old son, who had a language disorder and Asperger syndrome, to a special unit. He had already benefited from a partial Lovaas programme.

The tribunal concluded that the base would be ideally suited to his needs. It offered an individual programme including Lovaas approaches and daily preparation for supported integration intomainstream.

No duty of care

The Court of Appeal ruled against Pamela Phelps, a 24-year-old who sued Hillingdon council for compensation for its failure to diagnose her dyslexia when she was at school. The ruling overturned a previous judgment in her favour.

The three appeal judges were unanimous. They found that the educational psychologist alleged to have damaged Ms Phelps' education did not owe a duty of care to her unless, as well as performing her duty to her employers, she had assumed personal responsibility to the then child.

Second, Ms Phelps failed to prove that different teaching methods would have had "any measurable effect" on her progress in literacy.

Third, they stated that it was not the duty of education professionals to ensure the future financial well-being of pupils. Ms Phelps is planning to take her case to the House of Lords.

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