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'It might as well go in the bin': Mother slams council over autistic son's care plan

PUBLISHED: 15:58 04 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:58 04 December 2019

Juliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Juliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

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A mother has claimed an education plan for her autistic son is "not worth the paper it is written on" after he was turned away from specialist schools.

Juliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJuliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Juliette Bendell, from Long Stratton, has been battling to get appropriate provision for her seven-year-old son Leon since he started primary school.

He has an education, health and care plan (EHCP), but still cannot get the specialist school place his mother believes he needs and is only able to attend his mainstream primary school part-time.

Mrs Bendell, 37, said: "He is quite clearly a child who is unable to deal with his surroundings but I feel like nothing is happening."

Norfolk County Council said it was working closely with the family to resolve the issues.

Juliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMANJuliette Bendell has been fighting for two year to get the rigth schooling for her son Leon, seven, who has autism. Pictures: BRITTANY WOODMAN

Mrs Bendell said she applied for Leon's EHCP at the suggestion of his school.

"We were led to believe it would open doorways to specialist funding and specialist schools. They said it was a long road but it would be worth it," she said.

"After eight months we finally got it and to be honest it might as well just go in the bin.

"In my eyes it is good for nothing. We are actually worse off than when we first applied for it."

Mrs Bendell said Leon's school had "tried their best" but she believes her son needs specialist provision to cope with his autism and other behavioural problems.

She and the county council are trying to find him a place in a specialist school or resource base, but have been knocked back several times despite the EHCP.

Mrs Bendell said she was on the verge of giving up her independent business in Norwich in order to care full-time for Leon.

She has also joined the ranks of families launching tribunal proceedings against the county council over her child's education.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "While we cannot discuss individual cases, we accept that the needs of this particular child have not yet been fully met and understand the impact this has had on the family. We continue to work closely with them to resolve this.

"We are investing £120m in SEND and alternative provision and we have recently doubled the size of our teams carrying out the EHCP assessments. We have reduced the time assessments are taking and increased our quality checks for assessments and support."

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