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(UK) Kent: Autistic 10yo rejected by 30 secondary schools; 'cannot meet his needs'

July 1, 2024, Kent Online: Special needs school’s capacity crisis in Kent sees Rainham pupil with autism rejected by 30 secondary schools

SE England

A desperate mum does not know where to turn after seeing her autistic son refused entry from 30 secondary schools claiming they “cannot meet his needs”.

Kelly Adams, from Batsman Avenue, Rainham, fears her son Harley will regress and his mental health will suffer if he is forced to stay at home, as no school will accept him.

The 10-year-old is due to leave Danecourt School in Hotel Road, Gillingham in four weeks time but has nowhere to go after.

His mum has worked with his council special educational needs (SEN) officer to send out his Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) to special needs schools but they have all said they cannot meet the needs on his plan.

After the first eight on her application form were refused, Kelly was forced to send out the form again and again and the list of schools she can apply for has got smaller and smaller.

Kelly is worried the good work Harley’s current “amazing school” has done will be reversed if he spends too much time out of an educational setting while she fights to find him a place.

The concerned mum says she has applied to 30 schools, covering everywhere from Broadstairs to Swanley, but has been refused a place at every one due to Harley’s complex needs.

Harley is autistic, non-verbal and can only learn in very small time spans due to his mental capacity.

She also says he prefers a larger school setting rather than a small independent school.

Kelly added: “He would not enjoy an independent school, which is more like a house with only a few children. . . .

She does not know what will happen in September and is calling on leaders at Danecourt to consider offering education for older children.

“Every year they struggle to find suitable schools to place their pupils,” she said. “If they had their own secondary school it would not be an issue.

“If the council could stop building houses and build a Danecourt Secondary school the problem would be solved.”

However, she has praised the school for providing “an amazing and supportive environment” for Harley, where she says he has flourished.

“They never thought he would be able to do his phonics but now he does. They have worked wonders with him. . . .

While he waits for a suitable school Kelly has been told she may have to keep Harley at home and “go down the tutor route” buy she he will not cope.

“He wants to go to school. It’s part of his routine. He loves seeing the other children. He likes to play on the field and with the water in between his learning.  . . .

 “I am a single parent with a four-year-old as well. He can’t go from a school with teachers and teaching assistants to just me.

“He will regress and all that hard work will be gone. I can’t give him what a school can give him.”

With so many schools refusing to take him she feels the only option would be to try to raise funds to build additional facilities at his current school as many other special needs schools cater for their pupils until they are 18-years-old.

“I’d love to set up a GoFundMe to raise money to build a secondary school but obviously you would need to find a site and get permission,” she added.

“That isn’t going to happen very quickly and I don’t even know how that would work.

“They need to stop giving the land to housing developers and build another special needs school.”

A spokesman for Medway council said it continues to work to ensure there are sufficient places with the “right provision for our children and young people”.

“We are continuously developing further provision to meet the growing needs and where necessary commissioning independent providers,” they added.


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