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Parents back family’s battle to choose school for autistic son

Family forced to send son to Acland Burghley Secondary School

31 May, 2018

Acland Burghley Secondary School

DOZENS of primary school parents have urged Camden Council to halt attempts to force an autistic boy to go to a mainstream secondary school against his family’s wishes.

The Town Hall has said that the complicated education needs of the pupil, in the final year at Kentish Town Primary School, can be met at Acland Burghley. But parents of the boy’s classmates have written to the council in support of his family, who believe that the secondary school in Tufnell Park would fail their son.

The letter says: “His parents and independent experts are of the view that Acland Burghley will not be able to provide this particular child with the suitable education environment necessary for him to access the education he deserves.” It adds that the boy’s “needs are complex and particular, and – as with every child – it is these needs that must be paramount in his transition”.

More than 90 parents at the school have signed the letter. The New Journal understands that the family have already challenged the council decision in court, but the case was rejected by a tribunal judge in the first tier.

Nick Grosso, whose child is in the same Year 6 class at Kentish Town, said of the pupil: “As somebody who has known him for the past six years, his going to a large comprehensive just feels really wrong to me. He is a wonderful boy, with a wonderful spirit, but he is autistic. I just can’t see a large comprehensive being the right environment for him”

The letter, which has been sent to MPs Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq and council leader Georgia Gould, says that the boy’s parents believe he should attend the Egerton Rothesay, an independent specialist school in Hertfordshire.

They have asked that the money already allocated for their son to attend Acland Burghley be used to help pay the independent school’s fees, with the family meeting most of the costs. Camden Council has so far declined this proposal and maintained that he will be properly supported at Acland Burghley, which has a specialist autism centre known as The Base.

Contacted by the New Journal, the boy’s parents said they did not wish to comment until the matter was resolved, but thanked the “school community for their support at this difficult time”.

Mr Starmer said he was in the process of “establishing contact with the parents of the child”, adding: “Our central concern is to ensure the right and appropriate transition to secondary school, and we will work with all concerned to that end.”

A Camden Council spokesman said: “We are confident that the school we have identified can meet this child’s needs and an independent tribunal has supported this decision following an appeal by the family.”

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