Ramsgate 11-year-old still without a school six months after classmates began secondary education

Archie and mum Charmaine are still waiting for a school placement 6 months after the youngster should have started Year 7

While families have been receiving secondary school placement offers this week, one Ramsgate boy who should have started Year 7 last September is still waiting for his place.

Archie Owen left Dame Janet Primary School last July but, unlike his classmates, he did not start at secondary when the new term began.

It has been six months since Archie last received any education and his mum Charmaine says she is being stonewalled at every turn.

The mum-of-three had initially opted to apply for special schools due to Archie’s ADHD and social anxiety, which are both detailed on his Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), but was given the ok to change options for a mainstream placement with SEN provision due to her son’s progress in his last year at primary.

The 31-year-old said: “Archie has an EHCP from when he was attending Dame Janet and when I was doing the secondary school placement form I was advised to choose specialist schools.

“But then Archie had new medication and over the 12 months he made incredible progress and I wanted him to have the opportunity to attend a mainstream school with provision.

“At that time he hadn’t been given a named school and I was told I could apply for a mainstream school with SEN unit. But no schools have accepted him.”

Charmaine had hoped Archie could attend Royal Harbour Academy, which is close to home, but was told in July the school couldn’t take him as it could not meet his needs.

Charmaine says she is appealing as she believes the school caters for youngsters with needs more severe than Archie’s but Kent County Council has failed to respond to more than 15 emails and has failed to send the paperwork needed.

She says a case worker promise to secure a home tutor for Archie while he waits has also failed to materialise with officials saying they had no record of this when contacted by South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay on Charmaine’s behalf.

‘No education in 6 months’

She said: “On October 10, I requested an annual review for Archie’s EHCP which is a legal document that needs to be followed. That email hasn’t been responded to and on that legal document it states Archie is still receiving education from the primary school he left in July. None of the provisions that are meant to be in place for Archie have been met since he left school in July and he is still yet to receive any education from a school placement or tutor.

“KCC are failing him massively. They have supplied my son with no form of education in the last 6 months. It is damaging my son more being without a school and not being able to mix with peers his age.

“He has no social life. He attends two clubs for football and boxing for an hour each but these aren’t really social.

“I had a job as a carer until Archie’s hours were reduced at primary and now he is at home all day I have no opportunity to get another job so it is having an impact on us all.”

Charmaine says for Archie to still be without education in the week when primary children have been offered their secondary places has also been upsetting.

She said: “I felt nothing but sadness seeing everyone write about their children’s offers of schools and yet Archie is just being left.”

No response

Kent County Council was contacted by The Isle of Thanet News for an explanation about Archie’s situation on February 22.

A follow up query was sent on February 27 with KCC saying ‘an officer was looking into it.’

A further enquiry was sent on March 2 but KCC is yet to respond with any statement or comment on its plans for dealing with Archie’s lack of school placement.

School figures

For September 2023 a total of 22,620 parents/carers (19,007 from Kent) applied for a place for their child in a Kent school. This is 731 more than last year, and the number of Kent pupils applying has increased by 695, also setting a new record.

The number of Kent pupils offered a place at their first-preference school has gone up by 291 to 14,865 although the percentage has fallen slightly from 79.59% to 78.21%.

However, the number and percentages of those being offered their second, third or fourth choices has gone up, so the percentage of those allocated a place at a school for which they did not make a preference at all fell to under 5% – the lowest since 2018. KCC has not published the number of children who are without a school placement.