Fight carries on over boy's education

WHILE children are heading back to school this week, Felixstowe mum Roz Pocock is still continuing her fight to keep her son out of mainstream education.

WHILE children are heading back to school this week, Felixstowe mum Roz Pocock is still continuing her fight to keep her son out of mainstream education.

Josh Pocock is 11 and has Asperger's and ADHD but Suffolk County Council say he should go to a mainstream school.

The council has a policy of inclusion for youngsters with disabilities rather than segregating them but Mrs Pocock fears her son will not cope with a mainstream school and a stalemate has been reached.

Mrs Pocock can appeal and take the county council to an independent tribunal who could overturn the decision.

But she said she is angry and upset that it has had to go this far.

She said: "The education authority offered me other mainstream schools and I did take two days to think about it and weigh up the pros and cons.

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"I wanted him to go back to Causton and then start Beacon Hill in Year 8 but they said any child with a reading age of nine has to go to mainstream school.

"But Josh is eleven."

Mrs Pocock said she would like to see money being spent on setting up specialist school units for children like Josh rather than spending it on court cases.

She said: "I have been told that Josh won't ever do his GCSE's and he never did his SATS so what is the point in putting him in mainstream school?"

If Josh is sent to mainstream school Mrs Pocock fears he will become a target for bullies because of his condition. Like many youngsters with his condition he has no friends and finds it difficult to make any.

Vanessa Harvey-Samuel, Special Education Manager at the county council said they had been working hard with the Pocock family.

She said: "Our policy, which is to educate children with special educational needs in their local school wherever possible with the appropriate support, is in line with national policy from the DfES.  We believe this policy helps children to integrate better with friends and their local community.

"Schools can meet the individual needs of a young person in many different ways - for example with one-to-one help in the classroom, teaching in small groups for some of the week, or changing timetables to make the school day less intimidating.  We have been developing the role of our special schools in providing outreach support to mainstream schools, including developing support for young people on the autistic spectrum, and improving the knowledge and skills of teachers to work with these young people.  We are keen to ensure that there is a partnership between the schools so that we 'make the mainstream special'."

She added that changing schools can be a difficult time for any child, and that the county council had won a national Beacon award for their work to improve the transfer process.

What do you think of this situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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