In April 2013, my wife Emily had a devastating stroke, which left her with severely limited speech, mobility and dexterity. We asked the County Council to consider this when allocating a school place for our 4 year-old daughter, but have been refused all of our local school choices and instead given a pace at a school 25-35 minutes away by car. We believe that the rules that led to this decision are wrong and in breach of the Equality Act.
My wife's stroke changed our lives
In April 2013, my wife Emily had a devastating stroke, which left her with severely limited speech, mobility and dexterity. We asked the County Council to consider this when allocating a school place for our 4 year-old daughter, but have been refused all of our local school choices and instead given a place at a school 25-35 minutes away by car. We believe that the rules that led to this decision are wrong and in breach of the Equality Act.
Our appeal to the Independent Appeal Panel
In May of this year we appealed to the county council’s Independent Appeal Panel, asking that they take into account Emily’s disability and allow Ella to attend our catchment school.
The local school
In our submission, which was supported by our MP, three councillors, three doctors and a psychologist, we explained that a nearby school is essential because Emily’s disability has had profound effects on the functioning and mobility of our family.
In July, our appeal was refused, due to the inflexibility of the admissions criteria. We began a change.org petition to call for a change to the admissions rules, and through this have made contact with many families affected by these rules.
Our legal case
We are taking the case to Judicial Review on the grounds that the admissions arrangements breach two provisions of the Equality Act and one provision of public law.
If we win, our case is likely to influence Independent Appeal Panels to take proper account of disability within the family. It will also place real pressure upon local and national authorities to change their admissions criteria.
This could help thousands of families living with disability, for whom a local school is an essential part of a fulfilling and independent life together.
How much are we raising and what is it for?
Our lawyers have estimated that our legal fees for the Judicial Review may amount to £15,000 and we may have to pay the county council’s costs if we lose the case. We would be very grateful to raise at least a £5,000 contribution towards our costs.
About the claimant
Emily, Ian & Ella Johnstone. We are a young family living with severe disability, following Emily’s stroke two years ago.
### Name of our case Ian, Emily & Ella Johnstone vs Oxfordshire County Council ### What’s at stake Schooling for the children of families living with severe disability. We are taking Oxfordshire County Council to a Judicial Review to force them (and hopefully other authorities) to consider serious disability within the family when allocating school places. ### What’s the next step On 28th August we wrote to the council laying out our legal case. On 9th September, we received a reply from OCC, stating that they intend to contest the case We are now beginning Judicial Review proceedings. ### Our legal representatives Our solicitors are Turner’s Solicitors and our barrister is Sarah Hannett of Matrix Chambers
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