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(UK) Oxfordshire: 'There aren't enough places in special schools'

June 24, 2022, BBC: Oxfordshire Special Educational Needs and Disabilities outcomes 'not good enough'

S. central England

Parents of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Oxfordshire say the system is failing to support them. Children and young people are being sent out of the county for school or left out of education for years. Oxfordshire County Council said it was determined that all children had a high-quality education for their individual needs. But it admitted in a report that its outcomes were "not good enough". Charlie, 19, from Launton, has been out of school for eight years. He was diagnosed with autism, aged eight, and found mainstream school overwhelming. His mother Sharon said: 'We were left in limbo. It was like we just dropped off the face of the Earth. "The local authority was more than aware of my son's dilemma but since he was 11 he has been isolated in his bedroom with no alternative provision, no help, no nothing." 'DIABOLICAL' In 2019, the family said the council apologised and awarded them more than £12,000 in compensation for how it handled their case. Sharon said: "It's been traumatic, heartbreaking… the system is diabolical, it's not fit for purpose, it's letting so many families down. "Ours isn't an isolated case, unfortunately. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of families being failed." Last week the council was told to pay more than £6,000 in compensation to another family after issuing a care plan eight months late. The specialist Unicorn School in Abingdon supports pupils with dyslexia and related learning difficulties. It has 108 places but gets over 250 requests each year. It is in the process of setting up the Phoenix School, a sister school, to support children missing out on provision. The Unicorn School is in the process of setting up a sister school to support children missing out Assistant head teacher Alexandra Foster said: "It seems to be a particular problem in Oxfordshire. "There aren't enough places in special schools, but also the provision in mainstream is not really supporting the children adequately…. The Department for Education is currently running a consultation for its review of SEND provision. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he wanted to "end the postcode lottery of uncertainty and poor accountability", "boost confidence in the system", and "increase local mainstream and specialist education to give parents better choice".

Sharon says her son Charlie was left with "no alternative provision, no help, no nothing"


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