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Meet the autistic 11-year-old boy who the council can’t find a school for

An 11-year-old boy with special needs has been left “isolated” after a council has been unable find him a school, his mum claims.

Emma Parker, 38, said her son James, who has autism and serve ADHD, wasn’t able to start secondary school in September because no schools were able to accommodate his needs.

Durham County Council said they’re working to find a suitable place for James, who lives with his family in Dipton.

Emma, a teacher, said her son has “social and emotional needs which are a barrier to learning”, though he’s academically bright.

He was initially offered a place at a school for children with learning difficulties, but Emma said it did not cater for her son’s needs.

Emma said: “His primary school tried their best, we got him through and he managed to finish primary school.

“But he’s going to have to go to a special secondary school because a mainstream school can’t accommodate his needs.

“James can become violent to himself and others when he gets frustrated.

“He was at a primary school of 200 pupils and he couldn’t really cope there, so there is no way he could cope at a mainstream secondary with 2,000.

“He needs specially trained staff and the right support.”

James’ parents said they are doing their best to teach him at home, but their requests for a tutor were turned down because he isn’t considered to have a health condition which would require one.

“He needs a peer group, he needs to learn how to interact with people and find a way to fit into society,” Emma said.

“He’s becoming more and more isolated – the longer this goes on the harder it will be for him to go back.

“If I had taken my child out of school for six months myself I would be up in court. It’s ridiculous that they think it’s ok to leave a child out of school for six months.”

Emma, who has three other children, said her family is not the only one struggling to get a child the support they desperately need.

In February, the special educational needs and disabilities service provided by the Durham Clinical Commissioning Group and the council, along with a number of other bodies, was ordered by Ofsted to address the “unacceptable” waiting times faced by children trying to access services which were “too thinly stretched”.

Inspectors said in some parts of the county “parents said they have to be ‘pushy’ to make sure their children’s needs are met”.

Emma said: “If I can’t get my child a place, as someone who knows the system, what chance do other families have?”

Phil Hodgson, head of education at the council, said: “We have been speaking to the family on a regular basis and put forward a number of options for James.

“Unfortunately none of these offers have been accepted and, as his family are aware, we are continuing to look for other schools that could perhaps provide a place that meets James’ needs.”

Source

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/meet-autistic-11-year-old-14427922

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