This appeal concerned a young person (“YP”) with an EHC plan who had significant physical disabilities. An appeal was submitted to the First-tier Tribunal (“FtT”) against the contents of the plan. The issue that subsequently went to the Upper Tribunal (“UT”) was related to whether the provision of a powered wheelchair for the YP should be considered special educational provision or healthcare provision.

The FtT had found that the YP had “very limited to the control of his fingers” and that “it requires immense physical effort to neurologically ‘program’ and physical movement he wants to achieve”. The FtT determined that that the provision of a wheelchair was correctly specified as health provision and included in Section G of his EHC plan. The FtT however did conclude that the maintenance of the wheelchair was special educational provision “because without it he is unable to access the education and training relevant to the development of his independence skills”.

The UT held that the provision of a wheelchair was clearly additional provision to that made generally of others of the same age. So it has to be considered whether it constituted education or training. If the use of the wheelchair ‘educated or trained’ then it would seem to be special educational provision. The UT was not, however, persuaded that the FtT had given adequate findings as to how the YP’s use of a wheelchair actually educated or trained and so the case was referred back to a new FtT for a fresh hearing. It stated that, “In general terms the provision specified in section F is predicated on the needs specified in section B”.

Although the UT did not reach a decision on this point, this case confirms that equipment such as powered wheelchairs is capable of being special educational provision which should go in Section F of a child or young person’s EHC Plan (rather than Section G) if it is ‘educational or training provision’. The question in every case is the effect of the provision - if it educates or trains a child or young person then it should go in Section F. The UT cited the decision in East Sussex County Council v KS (SEN) [2017] UKUT 273 (AAC) and distinguished special educational provision from medical or nursing equipment which is essential for a child to be educated. The latter is not of itself special educational provision. The key thing is whether the provision itself educates or trains.

The full case report is available here.