R (on the application of N) v North Tyneside Borough Council (2009)

N sought to challenge, by way of Judicial Review, the Local Education Authority’s failure to make available the provision for N as set out in N’s Statement of Special Educational Needs in breach of the LEA’s duty under s.324(5)(a) Education Act 1996, in particular the provision of group therapy sessions for six weeks at a time to assist with her speech language needs. N argued that this failure amounted to an unlawful amendment of the Statement. However the LEA denied this and instead sought to defend the non provision of these sessions on the basis that it was only one of a number of arrangements to meet the numerous objectives within the statement and that when considered in line with her other very complex needs, this provision was not in her best interest.

The Court, rejecting the application, concluded that the provision for group therapy was not something that would be considered wholly in isolation to her other needs or the provision as set out in the statement as a whole such as to establish a ‘right’ to these sessions and a mandatory requirement that the LEA provide this. It would not be appropriate to round up other children to be placed in group sessions with her or make available this provision where it was believed to be against her best interests. The Court also commented that the LEA had not acted in a way to deliberately frustrate N’s right to appeal to SENDIST.

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