Thurston: Family win in education tribunal fight against Suffolk County Council

Endeavour House - Suffolk County Council's headquarters

Endeavour House - Suffolk County Council's headquarters - Credit: Archant

A 12-year-old girl who was “struggling” at school with learning difficulties has won a tribunal ruling backing her to be schooled at a specialist centre.

Charlotte Hobart’s family spent £15,000 fighting Suffolk County Council for two years as they said they had ‘no alternative’ but to take the authority to tribunal.

The family from Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, enlisted an education psychologist, speech, language and occupational therapists and legal representatives to fight their case.

Charlotte’s mum Christine said: “She has always been struggling since day one at school. As she got older she got further and further behind her peer group. And now she’s so far behind her maths is at a four-year-old’s level and she’s nearly 13.

“The county council did not listen, they said she was doing OK in mainstream schools so we had no alternative but to go to tribunal. We did not want to do it because we knew it was going to cost a lot of money.

“It created a huge amount of stress for all of us. It is a big decision to take on a local authority.”

Charlotte has Global Development Delay, Asperger’s and dyspraxia and has been studying at Beyton Middle School.

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She will now go to the Centre Academy East Anglia, near Stowmarket, from September.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “Tribunals are independent processes when evidence from both parties is presented.

“Based on the evidence available, the tribunal found in favour of the Hobart family.

“We are now in the process of arranging a placement at the family’s preferred school from September 2013.”

Mrs Hobart said anyone who wanted to challenge the council over their children’s schooling needed to get legal support. She said: “I did not expect to have to take it to tribunal. I thought the county council would have backed down as we had a good case. I think they thought that we would not have the evidence that we did.

“I do not think people realise how hard it is to get a child with needs the education they need.”

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