An 11-year-old boy from Margate is still waiting to start secondary school after becoming ‘lost in the system.’
Jacqueline Flanders says son Warren Villiers was expected to start at Charles Dickens School in Broadstairs last month but confusion over what support would be supplied to comply with his education, health and care plan (EHCP) led to him staying at home.
An Education, Health and Care Plan is a legal document for children with special educational needs meaning schools and local authorities must provide the support in the child’s plan.
It now emerges that Charles Dickens say Warren was never on their school roll while Kent County Council appear to believe he was enrolled and mum Jacqueline has had to battle through red tape to try and get her son into a new school.
Warren received his EHCP in February so he can have support for social and emotional mental health. The youngster is also going through the process for a ADHD diagnosis.
Warren was previously at Drapers Mills primary in Margate and Jacqueline said the school went “over and beyond” to support him in his learning.
She said: “He was a good learner although year 6 was difficult for him because he did not know what was happening with his school.”
The 38-year-old said things started to go wrong when she was told Charles Dickens could not support Warren and she says the county council’s Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (Send) department told her she would need to look for another school herself.
She initially made enquiries about Warren gaining a place at The Lighthouse School but dropped this due to it requiring private fees and having an inadequate grading from education watchdog Ofsted.
She says she was then “left in the dark” over whether the county council would take any action to make sure Warren could start school.
Following enquiries by The Isle of Thanet News it came to light that Charles Dickens said the school had not taken Warren as a pupil and Kent County Council seemingly had no answers as to where he was supposed to be going as the authority believed he was on the roll at the Broadstairs school.
Head teacher Warren Smith said: “I can confirm that the named pupil was not allocated to our school through the Secondary admissions process and is not on our school roll.
“On 19th May we were informed by TISS (Thanet Inclusion Support Service) that specialist provision was being sought. We received communication from KCC in July that parents were seeking specialist provision. Finding suitable provision for this child remains the responsibility of KCC.”
But KCC appears to have been unaware that Warren was not enrolled at the school and has spent the last 6 weeks at home.
Jacqueline was also unaware that Warren was not even on the Charles Dickens roll until after our enquiry. She is now in the middle of a tribunal process to try and get Warren a place at Royal Harbour Academy in Ramsgate. The academy had indicated it was willing to take him in although she has since received a letter to say the year group is full.
Jacqueline said: “There has been a massive mess up behind the scenes. As far as I knew Charles Dickens was being made to take Warren by KCC despite saying they couldn’t support him. Charles Dickens is the school listed on his EHCP.
“I had emailed the school to ask for support but was fobbed off when someone could have just called and said what the situation was.
“Someone in KCC education should surely have picked this up but he has just been lost in the system. No-one at all has been in touch so I have just been running around trying to sort it all out without really knowing what I was doing.
“I feel like I’m alone and have been thrown in the deep end and no-one is dealing with my son’s education.
“It has had an impact on the family as a whole and Warren, with his social and mental health issues, now feels like he doesn’t have a place in the world at all.
“If this is happening to anyone else I want them to know that we have a voice for our children and we have to make it heard.
“Royal Harbour seemed positive that they would be able to take Warren and support him but I still have to take it through the tribunal service.
“My son is missing out on his education, he should have started school when everyone else did and someone should have contacted us. It is disgusting.”
Kent County Council has been asked by The Isle of Thanet News to clarify what the situation is for Warren.
Jacqueline says once Warren is finally in school she will be making a formal complaint.
This is a disgrace because to me it sounds like mum and son are being treated by the school as they do not want to have any children who need a little help ( victimisation ) and the schools board are no better for not checking the schools list and there lists of the children at this school, if he had a day or a week away from school they would be receiving fines for non attendance, are the family now entitled to claim from schools board for private tuition now so young Warren can catch up with the schooling he’s lost due their incompetence, if mum had not asked for helping from the Isle of Thanet News they would still be none the wiser, I hope this is sorted out soon for Warren’s health and schooling as mum knows it’s not doing him any good, good luck. 🤞
Should say schools list against their list
It’s a far from simple situation. A school cannot just take on a child with special needs unless the school has in place the resources to safely look after them. That might mean employing a dedicated TA, with specific training.
I can understand the school’s point of view. It is KCC that seem wanting.
My child has very similar needs to Warren and is going into secondary next year. I really feel for Jacqueline as it’s an absolute minefield trying to navigate the specialist Vs mainstream system and who provides what. I’m not a teacher and am clueless about what is the best setting for mY child as no one is allowed to officially say whether they think your child needs a specialist setting or support you to find the right one. Parents of children with additional needs have enough stress to deal with in the day-to-day management of their child’s condition without this added stress. We really need keyworkers within the system who can guide us through finding an appropriate school and take responsibility for making that happen. The only useful source if support I’ve had is from Kent Autistic Trust (your child doesn’t need a diagnosis to receive support from Wendy Boorman and her groups). If you’re reading this Jacqueline – stay strong!! We don’t know each other but I’m thinking of you and hoping all works out well x
This is an awful story, but is a main stream school really the right place for a child with an EHCP? I am so pleased that the child and mother felt so supported by his primary school, but moving into a secondary provision, with an EHCP, perhaps main stream is not the answer. I completely sympathise with this struggle.
I expect this is KCC again. We had a similar experience years ago with them and they took a year to sort out the EHCP which by that time he had left school. It had taken the previous year to go through CAMS for his ASD diagnosis. Trying to get any answers was a nightmare and you were left on your own to cope with it not knowing what you was supposed to do. The support was non existent. He had such a bad time at school. He was always walking out because he couldn’t cope with the class sizes and noise. He was cheated out of his education because of his SEN. Nothing seems to have changed much in the preceding years then !
Personally I blame the parents should have thought about sons needs and considered arranging a viewing around the school before the term stated sounds to me with have a lazy mum who is now trying to blame the system! Typical Thanet MUM not taking responsibility !!!!