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York Law School student puts law into practice

Posted on 30 July 2018

York Law School student Rachel Adam-Smith has successfully challenged funding cuts to her daughter’s education.

Rachel & Francesca Adam-Smith

Rachel was last year informed by Leeds Education Authority that her daughter Francesca’s post-16 education provision would be reduced to three days a week. Francesca has a rare genetic condition requiring specialist care, and a reduction in her education provision would have have had a huge impact not just on her, but her mother as well.

Rachel said:

“It is extremely important that Francesca has the same opportunities to an education that other children receive. I knew that if I did not challenge these cuts, it would mean I would either have to stay at home and care for Francesca or pay for private care. In reality Francesca could not volunteer or do work experience as they were suggesting due to the complexity of her needs. Without a full five day provision, Francesca would become more isolated, frustrated and less engaged. She loves learning and socialising with other people, as she is now able to attend five days a week, she will be able to have the input she requires in accordance with her EHCP (education and healthcare plan) ensuring she has the opportunity to reach her potential.

“I would have been unable to pay for private care, given that I am a mature student and carer, therefore, it would have been necessary to abandon my dreams of becoming a lawyer.”

Francesca at school

With PLP representation and the support of solicitor Katy Watts, Rachel was able to challenge Leeds Education Authority. The council recently conceded that it has a duty to provide a five day week for students like Francesca who have special educational needs.At the time the cuts were announced, Rachel had just listened to a lecture on judicial review. Knowing that the cuts were unlawful, she sought the help of the Public Law Project (PLP). The PLP is an organisation committed to ensuring that everyone has access to public law remedies in order to hold public bodies to account.

As well as balancing her studies with caring for her daughter, Rachel also battles her own health issues, making the support from PLP all the more crucial. She said:

“It was difficult balancing my studies with my caring role and this case. I knew that Leeds Education Authority were making unlawful cuts and I am very pleased that my daughter and I were able to get the support from the Public Law Project to challenge the Local Authority.

“I hope that more parents will challenge the Local Authority to ensure their child receives the full five day education provision that they are entitled to.”

Rachel will be contributing to a public law plenary in Autumn 2018 to explain her experience as a judicial review applicant to the student cohort.

Following on from the judicial review, Rachel was asked to write a blog explaining her experience of the process for Steve Braoch (Barrister), which he published on his site:

Please share this blog to help other families challenge unlawful cuts to education.