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Fettering?

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Hello, I am having a few issues with our local council with regards to school transport for one of my daughters.

 

My 11 year old has just started Secondary school and although academically she is gifted- top of the school SAT score wise etc. She has been diagnosed as being Autistic. She is not aware of the usual dangers with busy roads, strangers etc and gets distressed in various situations. Her consultant has said that she is "too vulnerable to take public transport alone."

 

We were denied transport for her on the grounds that there are two other schools that are approximately 1.7 miles closer. We explained to them that my partner (whose CAG account this is) works as a child mental health therapist and clinical supervisor with charities such as CAHMS, CASY and ADDACTION. and that the two closest schools he currently has clients at, so for the clients and for our daughter we chose the school she is at as they have their own counsellor, so they will never need to have my partnet going in.

 

The BACP which is the professional accociation for members of the counselling professions in the UK, have advised us that there could be a conflict of interest with the "dual roles" that would appear if my partner is working with someone that our daughter goes to school with. The children he works with are extremely vulnerable with complex needs and most have trust issues, so if they see my partner with my daughter as one of their peers; any progress they have made could be ruined, or even just a mis-timed smile from my daughter or a comment that could be taken the wrong way.. just 1001 reasons why it isn't a good idea for there to be an overlap.

 

I have done a lot of research and I don't know if I am right in thinking that the local council cannot adopt a "blanket policy" and just say no, just because it isn't the nearest school? From what I have been reading, they must not "fetter their discretion"? So, they should not just apply a fixed rule of "nearest school only" ? Am I right in thinking this?

 

I appealed the first decision, by saying that I needed to include more information, that was denied. I now have a "stage 2 appeal" that I asked to attend, they told me this morning that it will be next Tuesday 25th Sept and that it will consist of senior officers of the council. I feel a bit out numbered and underprepared as I don't think my partner will be able to attend as he will have clients already booked in, so am I right in thinking I can mention the fettering to them? Will that just be laughed at? Is there anything else I can say, do, look in to?

 

Additional information- My daughter has two older sisters that took public transport, as they were able to. So, this isn't just me trying to "get something for free" or being over protective. It is too far for me to walk her to school myself and I do not drive (we couldn't afford a second car even if I did). I also have a younger daughter too who I have to take to school in a different direction. Currently my partner has been driving her when he can by making appointments around school hours and working late and not having a lunch break and when he cannot, we have been paying for taxis, which is all just getting too much.

 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Moved to the special needs forum


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Sorry that it was such a long post..

 

Basic bottom line question: If the appeal board is not listening to reasoning and are just sticking to their blanket policy of "No, because it is not the nearest school" Can I/should I mention fettering, or will I just be laughed at?

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I don't suppose you would be laughed at for arguing 'fettering of discretion' but I doubt it will help. No harm in raising it. Bear in mind that the legal duty on suitable schools relates to what's suitable for the child's quality of education, not its 'suitability' for the parents.

 

 

Can you find a support worker from SEND/autism groups who can accompany you to the appeal? As your wife works in the field I'd imagine you have some knowledge of appropriate support groups in your region.

 

 

 

If you are unsuccessful at your stage 2 appeal you can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

 

There may be other forums on line that specialise in SEND/autism matters. They would be able to give better advice on this than a general consumer forum like CAG.

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Thank you, for your reply :)

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