Middleton Cheney mum battling with council over autistic son’s education

The mother of an autistic boy says her son is being denied the specialist schooling he deserves because of a council wrangle.
Deborah Carr from Middleton Cheney. NNL-190115-152539009Deborah Carr from Middleton Cheney. NNL-190115-152539009
Deborah Carr from Middleton Cheney. NNL-190115-152539009

Deborah Carr won a tribunal against cash-strapped Northamptonshire County Council but she claims the authority is ignoring the court order.

The judge confirmed a list of education provisions called ‘short steps for outcomes’ that the council should provide but Ms Carr says none has been included in the final Education and Health Care (EHC) plan.

It is understood the council does not have to mirror the plan drawn up by another county (Oxfordshire) before Ms Carr moved over the border to Middleton Cheney.

But it was unable to discuss the detail of the plan it is offering because it is still subject to legal analysis.

Ms Carr said: “My efforts to get this plan in place continue after two years. It is meant to take a maximum of 20 weeks.

“My son is 14 and without being able to go to school he has been completely isolated and has become withdrawn.

“Eventually, after a real struggle, the council conceded a school place for him but they had wanted him to go to a school 35 miles away which would have been impossible.

“He started at Swalcliffe Park School last September after four years of very little schooling. He missed the whole of year nine during which the county only offered four hours’ tuition a week.

“They’re now paying for school but they’re arguing against the education provisions the judge ordered,” said Ms Carr who is taking her case to the ombudsman.

The tribunal judge said in his report: “The evidence relating to education needs and provision was provided entirely by Miss Carr. It is of note that whilst the LA opposed the appeal, they produced no evidence in support of their position and called no witnesses in relation to it. We find that quite extraordinary.

“(The boy’s) mother takes him to school and he has achieved 100 per cent attendance. By all accounts he is doing extremely well at school.

“Miss Carr feels she has not been well served by social care and that she has been left to get on with caring for a child with significant needs on her own without any support.

“This is particularly acute given ... her own significant ill health issues, all made worse by (her son) being out of education for so long.”

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We cannot comment on individual EHC plans. All children in receipt of an EHC plan are actively monitored and reviewed by the authority a minimum of every 12 months.

“These reviews focus on the child and young person’s progress towards achieving outcomes and also consider whether these outcomes and supporting targets remain appropriate.”