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(UK) Somerset: Mom with 2 autistic kids; one has special school place, one doesn't

Aug 8, 2023, itv: 'She's not happy' - Mum speaks out as eight-year-old autistic daughter has no school place

SW England

A Somerset mum fears her daughter will fall further behind in her education as she looks set to start the new academic year without a school place.
Ellie Elliott, who lives near Somerton, has two children with autism. While a school place for her son was confirmed recently, her daughter Makita looks set to continue into the next academic year without an education.

Somerset Council says it is trying to find the right school place for every child that needs support and is regularly bidding for funding to improve the service.

Ellie's children have struggled in mainstream school. After a long wait, her son has finally had a place at a specialist secondary confirmed.

He said spending the past six months knowing where his friends were going to school but not knowing what he was doing has been hard. …

Meanwhile Makita said she felt she was falling behind.

"I feel I'm missing out on learning and loads of like making friends," she said.

Ellie has been fighting for specialist school places for both her children and says it's essential Makita gets hers soon.

"At the age of eight, she's probably where a reception child or year one should be in terms of reading and writing….

Having a child with special educational needs can be hard but if that’s combined without the right education for them, it can become desperate. Many parents say the situation is so bad wholesale change is needed across the country.

Sarah Morgan, who lives in Mangotsfield, is involved in an upcoming protest this autumn. She said: "My daughter is going to be going to a specialist school, although I did have to fight for that….

"But we're one of the lucky ones - there's a lot of people that aren't in this situation."

Cllr Tessa Munt, lead member for children, families and education at Somerset Council, said: "We don't have enough school places and that is really unfortunate because there's nothing we're allowed any more as a council - we're not allowed to build schools.

"We will carry on bidding to government to be able to build more places for young people with special educational needs and extra difficulties in Somerset. We'll just carry on doing that because we need to make sure there are places and maybe there's even a choice of places."

For Ellie, not having her children at school has delayed her getting key medical treatment.

Her story and its impact is just the latest example ITV News has found in Somerset but there are children right across the West Country and the UK who have special educational needs and aren’t in school.

With many more being diagnosed with conditions like autism than in the past, a solution to the problem is looking increasingly hard to find.


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