East Sussex Drags Heels on Naming School for Severely Dyslexic Boy
The Law Of... getting your child the education they deserveA family from North Chailey is heading to the Tribunal on 5 July in a battle with East Sussex County Council after the Local Education Authority failed to identify any school for their severely dyslexic son to attend this coming September.
11-year old Kye suffers from severe dyslexia, dyscalculia and vision stress. Currently at a mainstream primary school, Kye is unable to keep up with his peers and his mum, Sarah Walker, is anxious that he receives more specialist support come September.
But with just a few weeks until the end of term, the local authority still hasn’t said which school they propose. As a consequence, the family have had to instruct solicitors to help with an appeal to Tribunal to ensure an appropriate placement is identified.
Sarah says: "Although Kye receives a good deal of support from his primary school, his teachers and I recognise that he needs much more dedicated and specialist help. In some areas, he is estimated to be around five years behind his friends. His speech and language report indicates that he is unlikely to learn enough in a mainstream school – a conclusion which is supported by an education psychologist."“Last year, my husband and I researched all the schools in our area to find the one which can offer Kye the teaching he needs. We found a small school which is able to provide specialist teaching and therapy for children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties.”
Sarah arranged for Kye to spend some time at the school which he enjoyed, and afterwards the school offered him a place. “We were all really excited about the prospect of Kye’s new school, right until the council told us that Kye would instead be going to a mainstream school – against all the evidence and recommendations from experts. Instead of getting excited about our son starting secondary school, we have been battling with the council which claims to have Kye’s best interest at heart but which absolutely does not. The process is exhausting and has taken the biggest toll on Kye who was previously such a happy boy.”
The family received Kye’s final Education, Health & Care Plan on 8 March: The legal document which is meant to set out what support will be provided and what school children with special educational needs
are to attend. It arrived nearly a month after the legal deadline and no school was named. Consequently Kye is currently still without a place.
Sarah says: “We finally received Kye’s EHC plan on his birthday. What was supposed to be a happy day, turned very sour when we discovered that the council had dismissed our evidence and, ultimately, Kye’s special educational needs. The plan which is supposed to help children like Kye transition from primary to secondary school was incredibly vague and completely lacking in detail. There was no specific detail about the kind of special support that would be available at his next school. In fact, there was no mention at all of which school Kye would be attending.”
Three months on, Kye still doesn’t know what school he will be starting in September and this is causing him a lot of anxiety, something which his primary school have picked up on. Subsequent request and correspondences from Sarah have been ignored; the council insists it needs more time to consider the family’s case. “After my solicitor James Betts from Simpson Millar put pressure on the council, they have outlined two potential mainstream options- both of which we had already contacted and advised us they would not be suitable. One of the schools the LEA propose is a lovely school and only a few minutes down road. But when Kye’s challenges became clear last year, we had a meeting with their SEN and transition coordinator who advised that we should look for a secondary school with a dyslexia unit. Likewise, the other school stated in writing that they cannot meet Kye’s needs.”“Whilst Kye’s classmates are in the midst of the early induction period and thinking about uniforms, he can just stand by and watch while we continue to wait. Children like Kye need extra time to transition from one school to the next; that is why there are legal deadlines for agreeing which school they will be attending, and which special provision they will be given. Instead, Kye is left stranded in a land of uncertainty.”
East Sussex County Council have said they cannot agree to fund the placement Kye’s parents have identified as they are waiting for the latest update from OFSTED, despite a positive report being issued by OFSTED only a few months ago: "Our other son Bailey who is 13 also suffers from dyslexia and has severe autism goes to the school we are seeking for Kye and since enrolling, his grades have significantly improved and he became happy about going to school again."“Kye sees that his brother is doing well and wants to have that same support. He doesn’t understand why Bailey can go to the school but he can’t. Kye gives 100% to everything he does but he needs a class size of five or six children, not 35, and the right teaching environment to excel.”
With continued delays, excuses and a complete disregard for the deadlines, Kye, Sarah and their family are now exhausted. “Despite his challenges, Kye has always been positive and upbeat. He used to go to gymnastics, Tai Kwon-do, Judo and cub scouts but has now dropped out of all of those. He now just comes home after school, pulls a duvet over his head and cries. How is he supposed to keep up with other kids in a mainstream secondary school if he is already struggling?”
Sarah has crossed paths with East Sussex County Council once before when her older son Bailey was rejected a place at the school: “Bailey was refused a place at first even though it as clear that he needed specialist education. I never believed that we would have to go through this nightmare twice.”
Sarah says she is prepared to do anything to make sure her son gets the education he needs. “I am adamant that Kye will not be going to a mainstream school this September. Experts have said he can’t cope and I won’t watch him suffer. I just hope the council takes its responsibility to provide suitable education for all children seriously, so that we don’t have to.”
Specialist education lawyer
, James Betts of Simpson Millar is representing Sarah. He says: “Sadly, Kye’s case is far from unique. Over the past few years we have seen funding cuts hit children with special education needs especially hard. Local Education Authorities have a very clearly duty towards these children and in this case they should have confirmed many months ago what school they were proposing for Kye. Not knowing where he is going to go in September is making it very difficult for Kye and causing his last term at primary school, which should be an enjoyable one, to be anything but that. Sadly, many parents are now having to take legal action to make sure their children are given the most appropriate education. This can be an exhausting process; made worse when local authorities fail to meet deadlines which are legal yet frequently ignored.”