The High Court decided that where a local authority makes an assessment of a child's learning needs under s.139A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000, the making of a recommendation as to an educational placement is an essential element of the assessment and report as required by s.139B of the Act. This is one of the very few cases dealing with the duties of local authorities in relation to children with special education needs who are to leave school to receive their post-16 education at a college.
Following the abolition of the Learning and Skills Council on 1st April 2010, local authorities now have the key duties under the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 to ensure suitable provision for post-16 education for children, even where it is not to be at a school. They also normally have the duty to fund the provision.
The starting point for local authorities will be a compliant assessment and report under s.139B of the 2000 Act. The decision in the P case significantly builds on the earlier law and is now essential reading for both parents and local authorities on what a report under s.139B of the 2000 Act must contain.
The case is also interesting for the discussion it contains about the relevance of draft statutory guidance on the meaning of statutory duties.
Charles George QC and Denis Edwards appeared for the Claimant in his successful judicial review claim against the local authority.