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(UK) Dorset: Mom and 7-y-o disabled son travel 120 mi each week for special school place

August 9, 2021, iNews: Mother and son, 7, forced to move into caravan [HOUSE TRAILER] 120 miles away from family home so he can attend school

A mother fighting to educate her disabled son has told how they have been forced to move to a caravan 120 miles away from the family home so the seven-year-old can attend a specialist school. Dr Helen Hunt and her son Wilf have spent the last two years of term time living on a camping site in West Sussex (SE England) , a county away from Wilf’s dad and his two step-sisters in Weymouth, Dorset (SW England). At 5am on a Monday morning, Helen packs up the car with equipment, clothes and food to last the pair five days in the 22ft caravan. They make it in time for Wilf to have a quick breakfast outside of Ingfield Manor School, West Sussex, before heading into class at 8.45am. Once the school day ends on Friday, the pair then make the three-hour return journey to spend the weekend with the rest of their family. Their life-changing routine was a hard-earned outcome for Helen and her husband, who had to bring a case to Dorset Council to argue Wilf’s local specialist school was not meeting his needs. The caravan is the only way the family can afford to live near Wilf’s schooling, with AirBnB and rental options deemed too expensive. …“I live this way as my local authority cannot adequately meet my son’s educational needs in the county we live in.” Wilf, affectionately known as Wilfie or Wilfo, has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy. He also has global developmental delay (GDD) and is non-verbal. He has severe learning difficulties and requires an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) detailing his specific care…. This year, the Government said the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) system was under review and it had also increased SEND funding to £8bn [$11B] in 2021-22…. While she has not heard of other families living in a term-time caravan, she said the number of families struggling to support a SEND child’s education are multiple. She said: “You are dropped by a system that makes you fight for everything, and feel you are constantly in battle mode, in order to get your child’s needs met. “I am a doctor, and Wilf’s dad is a journalist, and together we provide a strong voice for our son. “But there are so many families out there who may not know how to navigate the system, or know how to access help, or are simply too exhausted to be able to find their way through a battle with the local authority,” she added. Richard Luke, 43, has Cerebral Palsy and works for disability rights charity Scope. He told i if SEND school provision isn’t fixed, “a generation of children are going to grow up without the education they need or deserve.”…


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