Parents of a child with complex special educational needs sought an amendment to his Statement to include a "programme devised and monitored by psychological and psychiatric support to address his self-esteem and self-confidence and minimise the risk of mental health breakdown". The tribunal readily appreciated that the child needed input from a psychiatrist, but found that it could not make the amendment sought as such a provision was not educational.

Whether something was a special educational provision was generally a question of fact for the specialist tribunal. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of education which had been previously accepted by the Court of Appeal was "systematic instruction, schooling or training”. The provision should relate to a special educational objective and it should be possible to see what the provision was trying to instil, teach or train the pupil to do. The tribunal acknowledged that the child needed the treatment, but could not order it as educational provision as it did not provide instruction or training.

The UT gave some very helpful examples of what can and cannot be deemed to be special education provision:

“A few examples may be contrasted (i) A Statement of special education needs provides mindfulness training for a pupil with an anxiety disorder. The objective is to enable the pupil to remain calm, keep focused in class and relate to other children at playtime. Mindfulness is based on principles and practice to secure what is learned. (ii) The same pupil is also provided with cognitive behavioural therapy to teach him how to deal with anxiety that pops up suddenly. (iii)The pupil also undergoes hypnosis regularly to help him stop self-harming. In the first two examples, the child is receiving systematic training and learning coping strategies to help him learn in the classroom and learn to get along with fellow pupils, as a member of the school community. Both appear to be educational. In the third example the child is being practised upon in order to change his behaviour. His behaviour is affected subliminally. It may be thought unlikely that this would be educational provision any more than taking an antibiotic for a sore throat.

The full case report for DC & DC v Hertfordshire County Council (SEN) [2016] UKUT 0379 (AAC) can be viewed online.

For more information, see our section on what an EHC plan should contain.