'It's a disgrace' - Barnet Borough Council deny disabled boy place at 'perfect' school

'It's a disgrace' - disabled boy denied place at 'perfect' school

Bastian with his mother

Bastian, 11, has a rare genetic disorder

First published in News Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A mother claims her disabled son has been treated “despicably" by "heartless" council officers after he was denied a place at a "perfect" high school.

Bastian Willicott, of Malins Close, High Barnet, was due to start secondary school in September and his mother, Janet Willicott, had planned for him to attend the Collette School in Hemel Hempstead.

The 11-year-old has a genetic disease so rare there are only seven recorded cases in the world, which means he struggles to process information in his brain.

Instead of being offered a place at his preferred choice, Mrs Willicott was sent a letter offering him a place at Oak Lodge, in Whetstone.

The letter also arrived a month and a half late after the authority told her they lost her application and changed the way the system works.

Mrs Willicott, a part-time scientist, said: “Bastian isn’t exactly disabled but mainstream school isn’t for him. He sits directly in the middle.

“The Collette School is perfect for him. It’s small so he won’t feel absolutely lost and overwhelmed there.

“He’s been part of normality for so long, so going to Oak Lodge would devastate him, it wouldn’t be good for his self-esteem.

“Emotionally, he would digress. Academically, he would digress. Everything’s he’s worked so hard to learn, socially and academically, will go down the drain. He won’t be able to cope.”

Bastian’s disability means he has only recently learnt to write his full name, speaks with a stammer, has repetitive behaviours, and an intellectual disability.

However, just like any other boy his age he loves playing computer games, and one day hopes to be a 107 bus driver.

After he was denied a place at The Collette School, Ms Willicott took the decision to start him on a home-school programme before appealing against the decision.

The authority told her it could not afford to spend the £25,000 a year fees it would cost to get him to the school by taxi.

She has consulted lawyers and has taken the matter to the council’s SEN Tribunal – which is not due to sit until September 13.

She added: “Where’s the respect for Bastian? He’s been treated despicably, and so heartlessly by the council.

“I hate to say this, but I now truly understand why parents give in. There comes a point where you can’t cope or function anymore.

“I feel like the Government has highlighted that my son is disabled and shoved it in my face. So because he’s different, he’s going to be treated differently. It’s a disgrace.”

Barnet Borough Council said in a statement: “We always try to reach agreement with parents, however in this case unfortunately we have been unable to.

“Parents have the right to appeal against some decisions that local authorities make, where they disagree. “In cases where a parent has decided to take action through an independent SEN tribunal, it would not be appropriate for the local authority to comment. The local authority is bound by the decision of the SEN tribunal.”

Comments (8)

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10:50pm Thu 17 Jul 14

nlygo says...

Barnet resident is offered place at Barnet place of education.

perhaps the place in Hemel Hempstead was unavailable. instead of complaining to Barnet Council, perhaps the parent should contact Dacorum Council instead.

perhaps Barnet Council decided that a round trip of approx 32 miles every day was excessive for a child with a disability.
Barnet resident is offered place at Barnet place of education. perhaps the place in Hemel Hempstead was unavailable. instead of complaining to Barnet Council, perhaps the parent should contact Dacorum Council instead. perhaps Barnet Council decided that a round trip of approx 32 miles every day was excessive for a child with a disability. nlygo
  • Score: 6

6:47am Fri 18 Jul 14

Mr. Datchery says...

As the parent of a learning disabled child I would normally be sympathetic to this family. However Oak Lodge School (which is in East Finchley not Whetstone by the way) is a centre of excellence, rater outstanding by OFSTED and showered with other awards. My son has flourished there and continues to do so and I am sure this lad will also.
As the parent of a learning disabled child I would normally be sympathetic to this family. However Oak Lodge School (which is in East Finchley not Whetstone by the way) is a centre of excellence, rater outstanding by OFSTED and showered with other awards. My son has flourished there and continues to do so and I am sure this lad will also. Mr. Datchery
  • Score: 10

6:59pm Fri 18 Jul 14

Neville Longbottom says...

Another vote for Oak Lodge being in East Finchley - where do you get your info from?

If she wants her son to go to a school in a different county, she should move there or bring him herself.

£25000 a year on transporting one person is a **** take on most of the council tax payers who don't even take home that amount each year; let alone the rest that do.
Another vote for Oak Lodge being in East Finchley - where do you get your info from? If she wants her son to go to a school in a different county, she should move there or bring him herself. £25000 a year on transporting one person is a **** take on most of the council tax payers who don't even take home that amount each year; let alone the rest that do. Neville Longbottom
  • Score: 2

7:58am Sat 19 Jul 14

Mr. Datchery says...

Neville Longbottom wrote:
Another vote for Oak Lodge being in East Finchley - where do you get your info from?

If she wants her son to go to a school in a different county, she should move there or bring him herself.

£25000 a year on transporting one person is a **** take on most of the council tax payers who don't even take home that amount each year; let alone the rest that do.
It's a pity you were never taught the principle of "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all."
[quote][p][bold]Neville Longbottom[/bold] wrote: Another vote for Oak Lodge being in East Finchley - where do you get your info from? If she wants her son to go to a school in a different county, she should move there or bring him herself. £25000 a year on transporting one person is a **** take on most of the council tax payers who don't even take home that amount each year; let alone the rest that do.[/p][/quote]It's a pity you were never taught the principle of "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all." Mr. Datchery
  • Score: 0

4:51pm Sat 19 Jul 14

Neville Longbottom says...

Sometimes the hard truth needs to be told, whether it is nice or not.
Sometimes the hard truth needs to be told, whether it is nice or not. Neville Longbottom
  • Score: 1

4:41pm Tue 22 Jul 14

Mr. Datchery says...

Neville Longbottom wrote:
Sometimes the hard truth needs to be told, whether it is nice or not.
Yes but you revel in being as unpleasant as possible.
[quote][p][bold]Neville Longbottom[/bold] wrote: Sometimes the hard truth needs to be told, whether it is nice or not.[/p][/quote]Yes but you revel in being as unpleasant as possible. Mr. Datchery
  • Score: 0

6:51pm Tue 22 Jul 14

Neville Longbottom says...

Well that could be true.
Could be.
Well that could be true. Could be. Neville Longbottom
  • Score: 0

7:36pm Wed 23 Jul 14

Not that Dave, another one. says...

Well I'm with Mr Longbottom on this one, in meaning if not in tone. Also I question the assertion that this child is being treated any differently to any other child. I think the response would be identical.
The fact is, there is not enough money to go round for many well deserving causes, the taxpayers' pocket is not a bottomless pit. I believe Barnet Council has acted sensibly and completely within the rules that apply to everyone, the child has a place at a good school by all accounts, and in my view he is less likely to feel isolated and not part of the community by going to a local school than by spending all those hours on his own in a taxi every day. I wish him all the best and I hope his mother soon changes her mind about the school once he starts to go there.
Well I'm with Mr Longbottom on this one, in meaning if not in tone. Also I question the assertion that this child is being treated any differently to any other child. I think the response would be identical. The fact is, there is not enough money to go round for many well deserving causes, the taxpayers' pocket is not a bottomless pit. I believe Barnet Council has acted sensibly and completely within the rules that apply to everyone, the child has a place at a good school by all accounts, and in my view he is less likely to feel isolated and not part of the community by going to a local school than by spending all those hours on his own in a taxi every day. I wish him all the best and I hope his mother soon changes her mind about the school once he starts to go there. Not that Dave, another one.
  • Score: 3

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