When acting on behalf of children who have sustained injuries as a result of clinical negligence, it is important to consider what impact their injuries will have on their educational needs and to what extent they are likely to benefit from extended education.

It is usual to seek advice from an educational psychologist who can assess the child’s cognitive abilities and executive functioning skills and also consider their ability to access the curriculum as a result of their injuries/disabilities. The educational psychologist can then form a view about any required additional support for the child and whether they would benefit from continuing education beyond the compulsory school age of 16. 

It is envisaged that children with special educational needs will have access to the education system until they are 25 years of age. The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice, 0 – 25 Years, published by the Government earlier this year, provides statutory guidance for organisations that work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Although the option of extended education is to be welcomed, this will not be suitable for all children and young people with special educational needs and it must not be assumed that education to 25 is the default position. 

Alison Appelboam Meadows, a partner in the Penningtons Manches clinical negligence team who regularly acts on behalf of children and young people with very severe brain injuries, comments: “Paying parties often assume that a seriously injured individual will access the education system until they are 25 years of age, as this can reduce the amount allowed for the care of that individual. But such a proposal should be resisted if the child or young person is unlikely to benefit from such extended provision.”