Education chiefs ‘failing’ children with special needs claims mum


A West Cumbrian mother says she will be forced to home school her son because of a lack of places at special schools in the county.

Emma Harry and Darren Hendren, of Thornhill, applied for a place at Mayfield Special School for their son Noah Hendren, who has complex needs.

The couple received a letter last week from the county council to say they had been unsuccessful.

Emma said: “We are totally devastated and we are appealing the council’s decision.

“Noah has severe autism and a severe learning disability. He is non-verbal, still in nappies, has trouble eating and has many sensory needs.

“There’s more I could add on about Noah’s many complex needs and daily struggles. This is just the tip of a huge iceberg.

“And now we find ourselves fighting for something so basic for a child – his education.

“If there is no place, we will be forced to home school him and we don’t really want to do that as this would isolate him even more and we can’t provide the specialist intervention a place like Mayfield can.

“I believe there will be no support whatsoever for us if we do home school – so really, there are no options for us.

“I am being forced to choose between my son’s safety and his education, something a parent shouldn’t have to choose between.”

Emma and Darren had already kept Noah in nursery for an extra year because his health and education plan, designed to help youngsters with special needs adapt to school life, was not ready.

Emma added: “This year with the huge help from Noah’s current nursery, his plan and application for Mayfield has been ready months in advance.

“And now he’s been denied a place, and in September he’s got nowhere to go. We can’t hold him back another year again and mainstream school is not an option.

“I don’t envy the panel who decide who gets a place at our local SEN schools, but we once again, we find children living in West Cumbria with extensive needs and disabilities refused a place due to lack of provision.”

Cumbria County Council is the local education authority.
Councillor Sue Sanderson, cabinet member for schools and learning, said: “Unfortunately, overall demand for places at the county’s special schools exceeds the number available each year.

“We understand parents’ frustration and we are lobbying central Government to provide the additional funding that is needed to meet the growing demand.

“This situation is not unique to Cumbria – across the country local authorities are struggling to meet increasing demand due to inadequate Government funding.

“Where children do not secure a place they will normally be supported to attend mainstream school.”

But Emma said: “The council are ultimately failing Noah and all the other children who are sadly in the same position by refusing to find provision for them in a specialist place.

“Is it really too much to ask our council that they provide provision for all our special needs/disabled children so they receive an education they rightly deserve in a setting where they’re safe and all their complex needs are being met?”

Facebook Comments