Parents have won a High Court battle over the £16,800 annual cost of sending their deaf son to a specialist school.

Oxfordshire County Council insisted the educational needs of the 15 year-old boy - who cannot be named - can be met at a fraction of the cost at a comprehensive near his home, which has a specialist unit for the hearing impaired.

To send the boy to the specialist independent school of his parents' choice, near Newbury, would be an "unreasonable use of public funds," said the county council.

The parents' view was upheld last December by the Special Educational Needs Tribunal and that decision was approved yesterday by High Court Judge Sir Oliver Popplewell.

The county council will now have to pay the boys' fees at the independent school, although his parents will have to cover his transport costs.

However, the judge granted the council leave to appeal against his decision.

The judge said that the cost of sending the boy, who lives in a village near Wallingford, to the specialist school would be £16,800 if he went as a day pupil or £19,800 if he chose to board.

The parents said sending the boy to the county council's school would cost £14,000 a year.

They argued that their son would greatly benefit from going to a specialist school, which justified the extra expense.

That view was upheld by a tribunal who rejected the county council's claims that paying independent school fees was unreasonable.

The county council said the real cost of sending the boy to the comprehensive was £2,473 because there was a place there for him that could not easily be filled by another deaf pupil.

All the costs at the comprehensive would still be incurred, but they would have to be divided between fewer pupils, said Karen Steyn, representing the county council.

Oxfordshire was ordered to pay the legal costs of the hearing and the boy's case was paid for by a charity for deaf children.