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