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(UK) Northamptonshire: Nonverbal boy has to wait for special school place

July 13, 2023, BBC: West Northamptonshire Council criticised over special needs school places

E. Midlands

A mother has accused her local council of showing "no accountability" after her autistic son was stopped from starting school in September.

Tiff Cotterill from Bugbrooke, near Northampton, said her son Albert's spot at a specialist school was confirmed in February but will now be delayed.

Mrs Cotterill said she had also been told Albert will have to change schools in three years' time.

West Northamptonshire Council has been asked for comment.

On Tuesday, the Conservative-controlled local authority outlined its special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) strategy until 2026.

It said its plans were written with the help of teachers and parents and includes 75 new places in the next academic year as well as a new educational psychology service.

Tiff Cotterill said the council was giving "different versions of the truth" to parents of children with special educational needs

Albert, who is classed as non-verbal has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) - an official document issued by the council setting out what provisions he requires.

Mrs Cotterill said that when Albert's place at Hunsbury Park Special Educational Needs Unit in Northampton was confirmed in February, they were told he would stay at the same school until the end of Year 6.

However, the family has now been informed that unlike other children his age, he will have to wait until October to start school and would be moved to a different Send school unit in the town after completing Year 2….

"Getting a place in a SEND unit at a special school is like winning the lottery. There aren't enough places for the children that require them."

In a statement outlining the council's special needs strategy, councillor Fiona Baker said:

"The council continues to make progress against its action plan to address ongoing challenge of increasing SEND placements to help ensure better outcomes for families across West Northamptonshire."

The council said it had provided 40 additional SEND school places in the 2022-23 academic year with a further 75 to be made available by January 2024.


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