Can a student aged 19 receive funding from the Local Authority?
Educational Professional Asks:
One of our current students suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome. She has studied two A levels through home tuition. In August 2017 she will be 19 and is supported by an EHCP. In September 2017, she wants to start a two year A level programme to study Biology and Chemistry at a local FE college. To attend the college she will need her fees to be paid and also 9-10 hours support from a support assistant to help her with mobility and welfare needs in and around the building. Is she entitled to financial support for this from the local authority?
The LA is required to continue the young person’s (YP) EHC plan until she is 25 whilst she is in education or training – which taking A levels at an FE college clearly is. So it is perfectly possible that this YP’s place can be funded by the LA. In practical terms, the LA needs to be approached to discuss the wishes of the YP. She can ask the Authority to amend her EHC plan to facilitate her attendance at college including all the support outlined in the question. We would then suggest seeking an amendment of the plan as part of the annual review process. If the LA refuse to amend the plan to enable the YP to attend college she would have a right of appeal to a SEND tribunal. Again, in practical terms, it would be worth checking that the college has a place and would be able to meet her needs, including any physical needs she might have. On the latter point, the college is required under the Equalities Act to make reasonable adjustments to prevent a disabled YP from being placed at a substantial disadvantage. It is likely to be reasonable to expect the college to manage or make adjustments to ensure the mobility needs of the YP are adequately addressed.