Case overview  

The local authority (LA) refused to issue a Statement of Special Educational Needs (this was an earlier version of an EHC plan) for a six-year-old with complex special educational needs following an assessment of her needs. There was a difference in opinion between experts as to what provision she required. The LA argued that the school could and would make appropriate provision, and as such a Statement was not necessary. The Upper Tribunal disagreed and said that the key question is whether the educational setting will deliver the provision required without a Statement.

Based on this reasoning, the judge rejected the LA's argument that the school's available funds were the determining factor and found that a Statement was necessary, and ordered the LA to issue one.  

The full case report for Manchester CC v JW [2014] ELR 304 can be viewed online. 

What does this mean?  

Although this case was heard under the previous legal framework, it is still useful to consider when thinking about whether an EHC plan is necessary under section 37(1) of the Children and Families Act (CFA) 2014.   

This case shows that an EHC plan may be necessary when either the school or the LA lacks an understanding of the required special educational provision and fails to provide it in practice. 

As to why appropriate provision is not being made by a school, it may be that the school has simply misunderstood or underestimated the child’s needs and/or its capacity to deliver adequate provision. It is not necessary for a parent or young person to explain or prove why adequate provision is not or will not be made by the school. Parents and young people simply need to demonstrate that an EHC plan is necessary. 

For more information, see our pages on what an EHC plan should contain and what are special educational needs.