Parents crowdfund for Judicial Review of SEND services

There’s another group of angry parents who are preparing to take the authorities to court – Sutton EHCP Crisis.

Sutton EHCP Crisis was formed by parents of children with SEND – special educational needs and disabilities – because of the council’s inability to deliver the services that they are required to provide by law.

The parents have been waging a battle for more than two years, furious that a council-owned company is turning down the vast majority of requests for assessments for education health care plan, or EHCPs, which all SEND children, teens and young adults are supposed to have provided by their local authority.

Since 2016, Sutton Council has spun out its responsibility for EHCPs to Cognus, a company which it established to run the SEND service. Families accuse Cognus of rejecting requests for EHCP assessments, often for spurious reasons, leading to accusations that the council has a blanket policy of refusal.

Without an assessment for an EHCP, and a subsequent plan being agreed, parents and their children cannot access services such as special schools and one-to-one teaching.

Sutton’s SEND service failed an Ofsted inspection in 2018. A confidential internal council report leaked to Inside Croydon last year showed the lack of progress made since the devastating Ofsted judgement.

Now Sutton EHCP Crisis are set to carry out their threat of dragging Sutton Council to the High Court for a Judicial Review.

In a statement issued to Inside Croydon, Sutton EHCP Crisis said that “the stressful and exhausting process” that has been imposed on families “continues despite all our efforts”.

They said, “The Sutton EHCP Crisis Group has identified that there may be a claim that the Sutton local authority should not be providing our children’s SEND services through a profit-driven company, namely Cognus Ltd.

“We are very fortunate that well-known SEND barrister Steve Broach and law firm Rook Irwin Sweeney have agreed to represent us in this potential challenge.”

The group is seeking to meet the legal fees through using a crowdfunding page.

“It has more details of the case and what we are looking to achieve. We know that this is a big ask with everything going on right now but unfortunately we feel that this is all we have left to force the changes here that are so desperately needed by our vulnerable children who continue to be let down.”

Any parents in Sutton affected by their dealings with the council or Cognus can reach the parents’ group by email at suttonehcpcrisis@gmail.com.


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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