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(UK) Norwich: Mom of 2 with ASD fights for two years for special school places

Feb 13, 2023, BBC News: Norwich mother's two-year fight for sons' schooling

E. England

A mother says she feels "battered and beaten" after fighting to get her two sons into a special school.

Sally Brown, from Norwich, said she was forced to take legal action after a two-year battle, which had affected her boys' mental health.

Norfolk County Council had rejected her application for education, health and care plans (EHCP) for the boys.

The authority said it took decisions on entering the tribunal process based upon legal advice. Miss Brown said her sons, aged 10 and 14, were living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and had been badly bullied in mainstream schools.

She applied to the council for both of her children to have EHCPs, which would allow them to access a specialist school for their needs.

But in each case, the authority rejected the applications, meaning she had to go through the tribunal appeal process.

"I felt completely out of my depth both times," she said.

Shortly before each case was due to be heard in court, she said the council agreed to provide an EHCP.

"I should feel vindicated because I was successful every time I went into the tribunal process," she said.

"But sitting here today I don't feel very triumphant. I feel quite battered and beaten."

Miss Brown spent two years fighting to get her boys into a special school Miss Brown said her boys' education and wellbeing had suffered during the long battles to get the EHCPs, but they were now thriving in an independent specialist school….

In 2020, inspectors from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the council's support for children with special educational needs (SEND) had "significant weaknesses". Those included how quickly it handled EHCPs, which should be processed in less than 20 weeks.

In a new report, the inspectors said the council had made "sufficient progress" in addressing the problem.

The council said it currently delivers 53% of EHCPs within 20 weeks, with the national average being 58%.

"We have significantly improved our performance in the timeliness and quality of EHCPs," Mr Fisher said.

"However, we know we are still not providing EHCPs within 20 weeks for some families and we do understand this is frustrating."

Sally Brown said she had battled the council for two years for education, health and care plans (EHCP) for her two sons


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