BREAKING NEWS: National School in Grantham ‘mystified’ by Lincolnshire County Council’s comments

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A school at the centre of a disability discrimination row has hit back at Lincolnshire County Council over its comments.

The Journal today published an online story in which the local authority’s director of children’s services Debbie Barnes said she was “extremely disappointed” at National Junior School’s refusal to participate in a tribunal considering a discrimination case against a disabled pupil.

However, the school’s headteacher John Gibbs said he and the board of governors acted on the advice of the council itself in not answering the claim.

In a joint statement entitled “Responsible Body Not Responsible...” issued by headteacher John Gibbs, chair of governors the Rev Eric McDonald and vice-chair of governors/SEND governor Darren Thorpe, they said: “We are mystified at the comments from Lincolnshire County Council over the National School’s refusal to participate in the disability discrimination case.

“The academy consulted with Legal Services Lincolnshire at the county offices in Newland and accepted their advice to “do nothing and let the local authority pick up the claim,” as it was the local authority which was named as the responsible body. The local authority then chose not to participate or make submission.

“The academy agreed to liaise with the local authority in responding to the claim but the local authority did not request any documentation from the school in order to do this.

“The academy directors (governors) at no point used their newly acquired status as a loophole, rather we were concerned at the potential legal costs of the claim which we felt would be better used for pupils currently at the National.”

They went on to say that since becoming an academy in July, the school has increased its staffing provision for children with special educational needs, going on the say: “We will continue to resource this important area of the school as much as we are able.”

The school will meet with the local authority to discuss this provision and the best way forward.

The statement went on to read: “We will continue to monitor regularly policies and resources in all areas relating to these matters in order to maintain the outstanding provision for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities the National has long been recognised for.

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