Special child denied special school

I can just see the headline now on the national newspaper. 4 year old boy with tumours has no school to go to. Disabled boy denied the education he deserves. However it reads it will be a riveting story. A story of a young boy who can not talk and is completely incontinent with medical and developmental needs denied the education he deserves by his local council. Shocking. Appalling. Outrageous. But true.

Far too true and way too close to home.

Because this is the child I am talking about:

isaac pjs

This is my son!

Isaac has severe and complex needs. He has a diagnosis of classic autism, global developmental delay, learning difficulties and a medical diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 1. He has no speech and he still wears nappies. He did not learn to walk until he was 3. He is still being tested for a number of genetic conditions. And the law says he has to go to school at a certain age.

Isaac is due to start school in August this year. The law says he has to be enrolled in his local mainstream school which although heartbreaking, I did in January this year along with every other parent of pre-school children in Scotland. I knew he would never attend that school but had to go through the motions of producing all the necessary documents and signing all the necessary forms. But Isaac had already been put forward to the ‘forum’ back at the beginning of December the year before for the council to make a decision on where best he should be educated.

This ‘forum’ did not meet until March/April and at the end of April we were allocated a place in a very busy mainstream school with a unit attached.

We went to view it but it was very unsuitable for Isaac’s needs so we appealed and also put in a placing request for our local special school. We waited a long and agonising two months to find out today that our appeal AND our placing request have both been refused.

So we are expected to send our precious baby to a school with stairs when he can only ascend stairs with one to one support or else he crawls up. We are expected to send him to a school where he would not be getting one-to-one support. We are expected to send him to a school where he would be expected to have his lunch with almost 300 mainstream children and share a playground with the same children. Where there is no on-site nurse to be there in the event of his medical needs requiring attention. Where he would be one of 6 children with only one qualified teacher and perhaps one member of support staff.

As hard as it is for me to write, this is a boy I adore and treasure more than life itself after all, I know within my heart that my sons needs are profound. He self harms and harms others. He can escape within seconds, he eats and chews everything so presents a choking hazard at all times, he has challenging behaviour, he self stimulates, he eats his clothes, he is non-verbal and can not use sign language or pictures to communicate yet. He is completely incontinent and needs changed regularly. He has sight problems and balance problems. He has very little awareness of his surroundings. He can not call or ask for help. He can only use a spoon and his fingers to eat. He can not hold a pencil. He can only understand a few key words. He has no sense of danger.

He is a special boy and all the professionals agree he requires special education. But a group of people who hold the power within the education department, who only know about this boy through written reports, feel it is ok to deny him the education he deserves.

Could you deny this baby boy a special school? I couldn’t!

17 thoughts on “Special child denied special school

  1. This seems ridiculous and cruel. Maybe you should think about notifying the local radio and newspaper, build up a campaign using social media and wordpress. At the end of the day bad publicity is the only real way you will get what you need. What does it matter how you get your result as long as you get it. You cannot accept this, it is not even second best for your little boy.


  2. And what an amazing wee boy he is too Miriam, he’s a delight to be around even in the short time I met him. If there’s any way I can help at all please let me know, I’d be only too happy to do whatever I could to help Isaacs difficulties be heard.


  3. That is insane. You need to fight in whatever way possible. If they are going to look over you make sure they have to notice. Make sure they know that even if they don’t care you care about your son and will make sure everyone knows that they don’t care.


  4. I’m sure I speak for many others when I say “I am absolutely appalled at the complete lack of compassion and understanding shown by the local authority!”

    How can they justify sending a child with so many medical and social issues to a mainstream school?! Not only is that incredibly unfair on the children – both Isaac & the children he’d be in class with – but it is hugely unfair on the poor teacher who has to try and control Isaac’s behavior while trying to ensure the other children in their care receive the education they need!

    I have to agree with tric, in that the only way to ensure Isaac receives the best education he can is to make your story known. Send your blog off to radio stations, to newspapers – both local & national, to tv stations.

    Anything that will get your story out there where others can get involved.

    And you can count on my support, in any way u need.

    Good luck with it all x x x


  5. Legally you don’t have to send your child to any local authority school. Plenty of people home educate. when we decided to consider school for our severely non verbal autistic son we decided what we wanted for him and exactly how his education should look. We made it clear to our local authority from the beginning that it was either our way or no way. He’s now 7 yrs & 8 months and still only attend mornings. The la would like him full time (For statistical purposes you understand) but we know he can only cope with part time. Despite his complex needs he’s a funny, bright and happy child. We know we have done, and will continue to do, the best for him. We talk about ‘getting it right for every child’ but that’s largely rhetoric. However quoting the GIRFEC policy should help your case. Get a law firm to look at your case. Govan law gave us tremendous help.


    • Thank you! We are working with Govan law to see what our next steps are. Isaac is a twin and his sister has been deferred so there is always that option for him too but for the time being we want to fight this as much as possible or we will only need to do it all again next year. Thank you for reading Nd for taking the time to comment. It is very much appreciated. All the best for you and your son.


  6. I have an 18 year old with severe cerebral palsy and we went through similar starting school and now face huge struggle leaving school. You can appeal this further. What have educational psychologist recommended? Does Isaac attend nursery? What have they recommended? If you have all the others professionals on your side, then you can go to ombudsman as well. My email is heathermcwilford@yahoo.co.uk if you want to get in touch. I am just so so sad to read that nothing has improved and families are still having to fight every inch of the way x


    • Isaac is currently in nursery. They have to tow the party line and tell us that whatever the council recommend is best! Isaac has a co-ordinated support plan and everyone who works with him is aware of his complex needs. However, there are only 2 special schools in our area and Isaac has been refused a place in them. Thank you for reading and commenting. It is so hard for me to write about my son like this but I want to publicise how wrong this is. Thanks again. X


  7. Hi Miriam. I think the time has come to involve your local SMP also I think it’s time you involved the media. Go to whatever lengths you have to go and be reassured you have lots of support out there for you and Nigel. It is criminal of the local authority to expect Isaac or a teacher to cope in his present situation. Isaac is a very special little boy who requires all the love and support he can receive. This also will be having an effect on wee Naomi and she too needs support. I am praying continually that our great big awesome God will intervene on yours, Nigel’s and Isaac and Naomi’s behalf.With tons and tons of love. Mum. The Word says “when you go through the flood the waters will not overcome you”.


  8. Miriam, my son has no where near as complex needs as Isaac and is placed within a special school. Issac went to nursery with my daughter so I have seen his issues first hand and although I also live with some of these issues with my own son I take my hat off to you! This is a disgusting way to treat a “disabled” child DON’T GIVE UP!!


  9. My son is Isaac too! He could be his twin, he can’t use a spoon yet, has no understanding of speech, cannot crawl upstairs and has no language and uses a dummy. He was due to attend school this year and we felt it was too much too soon. We contacted the head of special needs for the county and arranged to delay his start to school by two years by home educating him. If when I come to apply for a special school place for him none is found- although I am told it should be, I have told them I will keep him home until they provide a place I am happy with. We are applying for charity funding to attend the rainbow centre for conductive education in fareham a few times a month, we will do special needs horse riding, swimming, stuff in the community and work on targets at home. It is completely unacceptable for your child to waste a year floundering and failing in mainstream school and home education is perfectly legal. Please consider it!! Claire


  10. So hard not to completly loose all sanity when dealing with councils / agencys . I admire your strength courage and faith in higher power . They tryd to brake you mrs and you came back fighting stronger than ever..xxxx


  11. If you are in Glasgow get in touch with the Govan Lae Centre – they have an education law bit and may be able to help


    • Thanks! I did contact them and another advocacy group but miraculously the council bowed to the pressure that almost 1,500 reading this blog generated and we now have a place in a special needs school. My next blog ‘I blogged, you shared and together we won’ will explain more!


  12. It doesn’t just seem ridiculous its unbelievably so and my son has a lot in common with this boy and was treated the same took many years of his problems getting worse and worse until he tried to seriously self harm we were listened to we had to fight so hard a lot of people just dont have this fight in them sadly .


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