(UK) Oxford: Autistic child without school place for 2 years; "lots of children" in the same place

Oct 22, 2020, Oxford Mail: Oxford mum blasts county council after son misses two years of education Southern England
THE mother of an autistic child has hit out at Oxfordshire County Council after her son missed almost two years of education – and counting. Oxford mum Rachel White said what has happened to her son is ‘unacceptable’. She said her son Matthew White, 15, had a breakdown in December 2018 and locked himself in his room for three months, refusing to attend school, as he struggled with anxiety and depression. It was decided that mainstream schooling was no longer a viable option for the then Cheney School pupil, and a special needs school placement was needed. … “He was given anti-depressants and had a psychiatrist. Cheney were fantastic though, we tried home tutoring, he would go in once a week and we took things slowly. “We then decided as a team that Cheney couldn’t meet his needs even though the SEND team was fantastic. There was just no way he would cope in a mainstream school anymore.” In December 2019, Mrs White set about the ‘long and drawn out, exceptionally complicated process’ of applying for an EHCP. An EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) is designed for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support…. Mrs White, who cut her hours at work to be with Matthew said that when she got the EHCP in May, she thought progress was being made. However, she said she then failed to hear from the council for four months. “The next time we heard anything from the local authority was in September but by this point Matthew had spent two years at home without full-time education…. “I emailed the SEND officer so many times, telephoned them many times too and for four months, had no communication from them whatsoever. “Eventually a council officer got back to me after I’d put in a complaint, it’s horrendous for a parent to go through. “There’s lots of children in the same situation as Matthew yet every child has a legal right to have 30 hours of education a week…. “We’re now going to see whether he can be placed in a special needs school in Oxford or Oxfordshire.” A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “Oxfordshire County Council is currently proceeding at pace with the process of placement for a number of young people. “The issue of insufficient specialist placements is not unique to Oxfordshire. “It is common across the country with a rise in demand for assessments and Education, Health and Care Plans. We are working hard to resolve this situation.”

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