SCOTLAND'S top-performing state school was found to have unlawfully discriminated against a pupil with special needs last year.

Jordanhill School, in the west end of Glasgow, said they could not accept the boy, who was disabled and had dyslexia, because it could not afford to fund the levels of support required.

However, the family took the case to the Additional Support Needs Tribunal (ASNT), which ruled Jordanhill had "unlawfully discriminated" against the pupil by refusing to offer him a place at the school.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has published the ruling on its website, said the decision was a reminder for all schools that they should plan for and take account of the needs of disabled pupils when setting their budgets.

The commission added: "Their duties under the public sector equality duty and the specific duties, mean that they need to assess and review the impact of policies and practices, such as admissions policies and budgetary decisions."

Details of the ruling emerged the day after Jordanhill was accused of "selecting" its intake because of its policy towards pupils with special needs.

Maureen McKenna, the director of education for Glasgow City Council, made the claim after the school warned prospective pupils with Additional Support Needs (ASN) they could lose support services.

The school, which regularly tops exam league tables, argues it is not covered by special needs legislation in the same way as other state schools because it is the only publicly-funded mainstream secondary in Scotland not under council control and the 2004 Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act relates to local authorities.

As a result, the school argues it is not funded to provide the specialist services required for some pupils with more severe additional support needs.

A letter setting out the position states: "It [Jordanhill] does not have the powers of a local authority and is not funded by the Scottish Government to provide the range of services provided by a local authority.

"Consequently, a child is likely to lose access to any support services previously provided by a local authority on admission to Jordanhill School."

Earlier this week, Ms McKenna described the approach as "unacceptable" and called for the school to abide by the "spirit" of the legislation.

In an email setting out her concerns to the Scottish Government she stated: "I find this letter particularly poor in terms of a commitment for a state-funded school to be setting out its stall with regard to the support it provides for children's learning.

"Given that they are being allowed to select by advising parents with children with additional support needs that they won't get support in their school, that then places additional burden on the local authority. I am really unhappy that this position is allowed to continue."

Formerly run by Jordanhill College of Education as a demonstration school, Jordanhill it is now funded directly by a grant from the Scottish Government rather than through the local authority.

The school is non-denominational and non-fee paying, but has one of the most exclusive catchment areas in Scotland with only residents who live in a list of prescribed addresses allowed entrance.

The affluent nature of its catchment area is reflected by figures showing that 64 per cent of its pupils come from the richest neighbourhoods in Scotland, with just five per cent from the poorest.

A report of the tribunal hearing published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the school formed the view that the pupil's needs "could not be met..... without a substantial increase in their central funding".

The parents challenged the decision by way of a disability claim before the ASNT which held that the school unlawfully discriminated against the pupil by refusing to offer him a place at the school.

The commission stated that it would be unlawful discrimination if a school treated a pupil unfavourably "because of something arising in consequence of the pupil's disability" which could not be shown to be legally justified.

Key to the decision was the assessment of the pupil's needs with the tribunal rejecting the school's view on the level of support required.

"It would be reasonable for the school to plan on an anticipatory basis to meet [the pupil's] needs on the same basis as were currently being provided for by his current school."

The tribunal went on to state that there was a need for contingency planning within the school's financial management to allow flexibility within the support for learning department with the comment that the school's assessment of the available resources, both staffing and financial, was "reactive", rather than "anticipatory".

In a statement the school said: "As the community, comprehensive school Jordanhill prides itself on its inclusiveness.

"In reviewing and updating the Accessibility Strategy the Board of Managers has carefully considered and incorporated recent guidance for schools from Scottish Government along with feedback from the Tribunal.

"That strategy reinforces our commitment to all our young people having access to positive learning environments and opportunities to develop their knowledge, skills, ambition, confidence and self-esteem to their fullest potential.

"Understanding and planning to meet the needs of all children prior to entry is an essential element of this process and we seek support from everyone engaging with a young person to do this.

"In 99.9 per cent of cases transfer occurs smoothly. On the extremely rare occasion when an issue emerges this has been when there has been a pre-existing and unresolved dialogue as to the needs of a child at the point of transition. "The school would always give further consideration to a child's circumstances once this dialogue is resolved."

It added: "In the ASL Act the Scottish Parliament has determined that the school should be treated like all other Grant Aided schools. While the school seeks at all times to operate within the spirit of the Act, the school is not a local authority and has neither the powers nor the resources of a local authority.

"No individual school - local authority controlled, grant aided or independent - has the infrastructure, expertise or resource to meet the needs of every child."

The statement concluded: "The success of our approaches is evident in the outcomes. Regardless of personal needs or family context (gender, ethnicity, additional support needs or socio-economic background) pupils at Jordanhill School achieve at levels significantly above expectations. The child-centred philosophy of the school is central to this success."