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(UK) Liverpool: Schools not meeting needs of autistic children

Mar 8, 2020, Liverpool Echo: Parents in battle with council over children with special needs missing years of school https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/parents-battle-council-over-children-17866611 Families with children with special needs have faced hefty legal bills to fight Liverpool Council for support they are entitled to. Children with special needs are missing years of school and Liverpool families in have been driven into debt - due to legal battles with the council over their children's education. … In one case, parents claim that Liverpool Council removed their autistic son's education therapy from his plan without notifying them - and that they are having to pay more than £1,000 to go to court to reinstate it. One single mother says her son, who also has autism, has been left unable to read and write after he spent two years out of education because the council tried to send him to a school which admitted it 'could not meet his needs'. … The law states that the local authority must deliver a completed EHCP plan within 20 weeks after a child is assessed, however in many cases this deadline is missed. "We've paid out £4,500 [$5.9K U.S.] since 2016 battling the council" Brandon and Sarah Jackson, from Knotty Ash, have spent years trying to secure the correct educational support for their son Daniel, 12, who has autism. Daniel is non verbal and relies upon an electronic device to communicate. In 2016, Brandon and Sarah decided to move Daniel from a specialist school back into mainstream education after he responded well to Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapy, which could be administered within a mainstream school. His parents say that without the therapy, Daniel would be unable to access the curriculum. Liverpool City Council refused to fund the therapy on his EHCP plan, and his parents were forced to spend £3,000 [$4K US] on an educational psychologist and legal costs to prove he needed the support, which the council later accepted prior to a tribunal. However, when Daniel moved from primary school to secondary school in 2019 his therapy was suddenly removed from his plan without his parents being notified…. Brandon told the ECHO: "We know that the council is financially stretched and we didn't want to have to push for it like this. "Before he started on his ABA he wouldn't make eye contact and he had no real method of communication. "Now he'll look us in the eye, he gets involved in classes with his friends. He's a completely different boy. It really helped his confidence…. "We've been to countless meetings trying to get all of his therapy reinstated and it just ends up going back up to management at the council and they tell us no. "The worst thing for us is that when Daniel moved to secondary school the council took his therapy out of his EHCP without telling us." "My son missed two years of school. He now struggles to read and write" Cherrelle Herbert, 31, from Liverpool, was forced to give up her up job and was left thousands of pounds in debt after her son Mikey Trott, 11, who has autism, was out of school for two years during a lengthy dispute with the council. Like many children with special educational needs, Mikey was excluded from a mainstream school in June, 2016…. Throughout 2017 and 2018, Cherrelle says that the council insisted on sending Mikey to a school which said it could not meet his needs as stated on his EHCP. In September 2019, he was eventually placed by the council at the specialist Bank View High School more than two years after he was first excluded from mainstream school. … "The headteacher of the school the council insisted in sending him to looked at his EHCP and said that they couldn't meet his needs." The saga had significant financial and career developments for Cherrelle who had to give up her job to look after her son full time while he was out of school. … Sarah Dutton, 36, from Walton, experienced problems just trying to get her son Joseph, 14, who is on the pathway towards an autism diagnosis, assessed for additional support. In December 2018, she applied for the council to assess her son after he was repeatedly excluded at school for challenging behaviour, however the council refused to carry out an assessment…. Another mother claimed the council refused to help find a suitable school for her son, while he was excluded from a mainstream school which struggled to meet his needs … According to the study, just 12% of respondents received a completed EHCP within the 20 week legal time limit. 41% of those interviewed said they had been forced to give up work to care for their child due to delays in getting SEND support. Liverpool City Council declined to comment on any of the individual cases highlighted in this article but pointed out it was providing services "within the context of very challenging financial circumstances." …