The parents in this case appealed to the High Court when they lost a First-tier Tribunal appeal about school placement. The local authority (“LA”) had refused on the grounds that it would be incompatible with the efficient use of resources, as the provision that would be needed for him in the parent’s choice of school would be far more expensive than the place at the LA’s choice of school (which was, the First-tier Tribunal considered, better able to meet his needs).

The High Court made some useful comments on the issue of efficient use of resources and set out how LAs and Tribunals must address this issue in future. A two-stage process was required in reaching a decision. First, an LA or Tribunal must establish whether one alternative was in fact more expensive than another was. If so, then they must make the decision as to whether the additional expenditure involved in meeting the parent’s preference was justified:

“... one has to look at the figures, decide whether there is an additional cost, and then do a balancing exercise weighing the additional cost against the parents’ preference ... it is partly a factual exercise and partly a balancing exercise.” 

This case remains relevant for naming a school in an EHC plan, as the language which was the subject of the judgement has been retained in s. 39(4) of the Children and Families Act 2014.

No case report is available online.

For more information, see our section on choosing a school when you have an EHC plan.