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(UK) York: 'Failing system': only one 4-y-o autistic twin gets special school place

Mar 25, 2023, BBC News: York parents of autistic twins face dilemma as one boy given special school place

N. England

The parents of four-year-old, autistic twins say they feel "part of a horrible experiment", as only one has been given a place at a special school.

Jasper has been offered a place at Hob Moor Oaks School in York, leaving Reuben to attend a mainstream primary.

Both boys are non-verbal and have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) detailing "significant" difficulties.

City of York Council said it would work with the family to find a solution.

The boys' father Pete, 40, a former special needs teacher, said: "It's an impossible choice."

Pete and wife Rhiannon, 38, a former deputy head, said recent mediation with City of York Council had failed to reverse the decision, with the authority telling them Hob Moor Oaks School which serves children with special educational needs, is "over-subscribed".

Pete said: "It's hard to stomach our boys will be put on completely different trajectories. Jasper and Reuben are very close. They have lovely laughs together. "It feels like a horrible experiment"….

Jasper and Reuben were diagnosed autistic in April 2022, with EHCPs - legal documents drawn up by City of York Council and the NHS - showing both have "significant difficulty" with social interaction and communication….

Believing both boys would require specialist provision, Pete and Rhiannon, who run a day nursery in York, put down Hob Moor Oaks School as their first choice for enrolment in September 2023.

Tim Nicholls, head of influencing and research at the National Autistic Society, said: “Parents speaking to our education helplines often tell us they are worried that mainstream schools don’t have enough resource to support their child, and that they are unable to find a place for their child in a specialist school.

“Cases such as this show the distressing reality of the failing system. How can a system allow two children with identical needs to receive such different support? It’s baffling.”

In January, they were informed by the authority that Jasper has a place but Reuben does not….

The family said they are prepared to take their case to a tribunal.


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