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(UK) Birmingham: 11 y.o. with autism has no school place; delay in placement

Sept 27, 2023, Birmingham Mail: Mum's fury as autistic daughter, 11, left without school forced to teach herself to read

Central England

An 11-year-old girl with autism is teaching herself how to read for charity after being left without a place at school this year

An eleven-year-old girl with autism left 'without a place at school' has made it her mission to learn to read in 60 days. Annie, from Rugeley, has missed the start of the academic year after her local authority ‘failed’ to find a school which would meet her needs. Mum Amy Wood said Annie has been ‘let down’ by Staffordshire County Council who held ‘outdated’ information in Annie’s Education, Health and Care (ECH) plan, meaning a delay in allocating her an appropriate school place.. To ensure she is not missing out on an education, Annie - who has the educational ability of a four-year-old - is now on a self-driven mission to learn to read while raising money for the charity Vysions.

Vysions provide support for young people in the West Midlands and have supported Annie in developing her social skills. Mum Amy said the reading challenge had given Annie a ‘real drive’ to learn.

“I naively trusted the local authority to find Annie a school that would meet her needs - but that hasn’t happened,” said frustrated mum Amy. “When I looked at Annie’s EHCP plan it was completely outdated.

“Annie’s currently got the educational ability of about a four year old and the local authority wants to send her to a 12+ school - there’s not going to be enough support for her. If they’d done the correct assessments in the first place we wouldn’t be in this situation - they’ve let her down.”

The mum-of-five is currently in the process of appealing the council’s decision to send Annie to a 12+ mainstream school which is over an hour away from the family’s home. She’s called on more support for parents of SEND children to ensure they get the right placements for their needs.

While the family say they feel ‘let down’ by Staffordshire Council, they are eager to make the best of a bad situation. Annie has embarked on a reading challenge to raise money for a local charity who have ‘helped her massively’ in recent months - and she has already raised nearly £400....

When approached, Jonathan Price, Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND) at Staffordshire County Council, said: "Our goal is to provide every child and young person in Staffordshire with the best start in life and the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

“Our recent proposals around Special Educational Needs and Disabilities provision will see us increase support within mainstream schools and create additional provision in special schools. This will help make sure that children with SEND receive the tailored support they need in their local communities.

“When making decisions regarding placement for children with an Educational Health and Care Plan, our SEND team always work closely with parents, taking into account their preferred school. In most cases there is agreement from both parties on a suitable school, however where this isn’t the case, parents have the right to appeal the decision. While Annie’s mum has appealed the decision, the service continue to work with the family to find a suitable placement.”

Annie, 11, is raising money for charity after being left without a school this academic year.


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