What is the best evidence to support a residential placement for further education (19-25?)

My daughter is 18 and would like to go to university, but this is out of reach as her learning disabilities prevent her from achieving GCSEs let alone A-levels. She is very frustrated and unhappy about being left behind by her peers/ siblings and this causes daily friction at home as she feels - in her own words - 'isolated'. She is very independent in some ways, e.g. having received intensive travel training she navigates London transport easily. However, she is emotionally extremely vulnerable, quite lonely and easily manipulated by anyone who offers friendship. We have already had to step in on two occasions with interventions from CAMHS and her school to prevent this, and can see the seriousness of these incidents escalating as she matures. We are concerned about her safety, her mental health and her ability to progress in education and independence.

We would like her to attend a residential college so that:
- she can make friends who are on her level, whilst learning to distinguish between genuine friendship and exploitation in a safe environment
- she is expected to work full time on practical, vocational skills with the appropriate level of support, repetition and consistency to become truly employable
- she can learn to manage her own finances, laundry, shopping, cooking through a waking day curriculum
We see this as an important stepping stone towards independent living, as she can master new skills but only with intensive training and support.

The local offer would be a part time course within a large mainstream college and she would not be safe there, especially when so much of her week would be unaccounted for while the family is at work and school. There are specialist colleges nearby which would be safer, but only for the 3 days a week that they offer, leaving her at a loose end the rest of the time. In addition, the curriculum at these colleges is very similar to her post-16 'employability' course at her current school, so she wouldn't be progressing much or learning how to work full-time in a practical job, unlike the residential colleges which have indicated that they could meet her needs.

I have asked CAMHS if they can write a letter to support our argument that a residential placement is necessary but they are reluctant to do so, despite having documented one intervention earlier this year which specifically references her 'friend' persuading her to steal on her behalf. Here is what they said: "I have been advised that we have to leave the Local Authority to make the decision without any input from CAMHS. They have explained that they are responsible for the plans, and we only confuse things by getting involved"

Surely we need input from experts close to her, and CAMHS are our only port of call here? My only other entry point is a social care referral and I have made a request but it seems to have gone into a black hole with the local authority.

Emily Foges

Emily Foges
Support SEND Kids
12 Oct 2023

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A: SenseCheck

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  • 15 Dec 2023
  • Other


    Can't answer yes or no.:

    Hello Emily. I'm not sure if you've now resolved this issue but if not then my advice would be as follows. To obtain residential college provision you are either going to have to prove this is necessary to meet educational needs, or to meet social care needs. It is normally better to prove this is necessary to meet educational needs - because social care needs can be met in a variety of ways and not necessarily through a residential college of yours/your daughter's choice. Whereas if you can prove it's necessary to meet educational needs then you will have the protections and legal rights set out in the Children and Families Act 2014 and the local authority will have to follow your choice of setting unless any of the exceptions in section 39 of the Act apply.

    Therefore in order to get a residential college named you will want to ensure all relevant professionals provide updating advice for the EHCP at the next annual review. You may also wish to consider commissioning an educational psychology report yourself on a private basis if that is possible. You will need to prepare yourself that there is a significant chance the LA will not agree to residential provision straightaway because of the cost. What you will need to evidence is that there are educational needs which justify an extended day/residential provision. This could be learning independence skills, preparing for adulthood, practising skills across the day and into the evening etc. An educational psychologist can advise on these areas.

    Obtaining a social care assessment is also a good idea - if the LA still haven't responded to you about that then I would suggest putting in a formal complaint to speed things up. There is a low threshold for assessment under the Care Act.

    I hope this helps.

    Caroline Barrett

    Caroline Barrett
    Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP

  • 15 Oct 2023
  • Other


    Too fact specific, I can't generalise.:

    I would like to extend my thanks for your post, which effectively sheds light on the considerable challenges that many young people face.

    With your permission, I have summarised the key points from your post:

    Your 18-year-old daughter possesses a strong desire to pursue higher education at a university. However, her learning difficulties have proven to be a significant impediment in her quest to attain GCSEs and A-levels. This has understandably left her feeling disheartened, socially isolated, and embroiled in daily conflicts with her peers and siblings. Despite her commendable independence in navigating London's complex transport system, she remains emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation by individuals who purport to be her friends. You've had to intervene on two occasions, seeking assistance from CAMHS and her school to address these pressing concerns. Currently, you are contemplating the prospect of enrolling her in a residential college, where she can connect with peers at her level, develop practical skills, and gain a solid foundation in life management. The safety risks associated with mainstream colleges, as well as the insufficient support provided by local specialist colleges, have led you to this decision. You've diligently sought support from CAMHS and social care services, yet it appears both are displaying reluctance in offering the necessary assistance, thereby putting your daughter's safety, mental well-being, and education at risk.

    Fortunately, the Noddy Guide appears to offer a wealth of resources, and some references, such as those below, may prove to be invaluable:

    04.02 Does the LA have a duty to make provision under an EHCP for a young person up to the age of 25 even where they may not obtain further …

    08.12 Does the term “waking day curriculum” have any legal meaning?

    08.13 Is there a particular rule about when a child requires out of hours SEP?

    I must express my view that your experience concerning a request for a social care assessment is unsettling. As per my understanding, and I eagerly anticipate further insights from other contributors, the legal framework governing community care assessments is largely contained in the National Health Service and Community Care Act  1990. This legislation requires local authorities to promptly evaluate individuals who "may be" in need of social care services. Notably, this assessment must revolve around an individual's needs and should not be influenced by their eligibility for state-funded care. The Community Care Assessment Directions of 2004 dictate that a comprehensive assessment must encompass a face-to-face consultation, engagement with pertinent parties, and mutual agreement on services and charges.

    In accordance with Supreme Court in the case of R (KM) v Cambridgeshire County Council [2012] UKSC 23, the assessment comprises four distinct stages: firstly, determining the individual's needs without taking into consideration available resources; secondly, ascertaining whether services are a necessity; thirdly, categorising the requirements; fourthly, defining the nature and extent of the services required and presenting the option of direct payments. This assessment should really be concluded within 28 days of the initial request. Given the apparent 'black hole' into which your request seems to have vanished, it would be prudent to consider initiating the Local Authority's formal complaints procedure. Moreover, considering your daughter's age, she might be eligible for legal help/ legal aid , although the process of locating a suitable provider may present challenges due to capacity constraints.

    In conclusion, it is evident that the issues you have raised really would benefit from the additional invaluable input of experienced practitioners. I eagerly anticipate the forthcoming contributions and discussions on this matter.



    Sean Kennedy

    Sean Kennedy
    Talem Law