Plea for overhaul of special educational needs system by parents of boy excluded from Cawston Primary School

The mother and stepfather of a boy excluded from school for persistent bad behaviour have called for a national overhaul of the way children with special educational needs (SEN) are assessed, to end years of heartache and wasted education.

Kendra Lyne and her partner Carl Wildgoose, from Aylsham, say families such as theirs are suffering long delays and stress trying to get help with SEN children.

Ms Lyne's son Shae Wilson, 10, has started at a new north Norfolk school after she withdrew him from Cawston Primary where he had been excluded for three days.

The ban came 10 days before Shae was given a provisional diagnosis of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by a paediatrician.

Ms Lyne and Mr Wildgoose are now hoping Shae will receive an official SEN statement setting out his needs and any help he should have.

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But they claim help for Shae, who had been at Cawston for more than three years, should have been available much sooner.

Head teacher Kay Swann said the school had stuck to approved and successful policies.

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The couple say other parents have told them about similar experiences at different schools and they want Education Secretary Michael Gove to re-examine the whole system.

Alison Thomas, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, said the council and government were looking to make changes to the SEN system. The government aimed to make it clearer and less bureaucratic, and prevent children having to wait to have their needs met.

And in Norfolk schools were set to be given more support cash directly, rather than having to have statemented children before they could access a proportion of the money available.

'We are now looking at delegating all of this funding to schools to ensure they can target it where it is most needed,' said Mrs Thomas.

'We believe that this delegation of funding will ensure that schools can meet their pupils'needs earlier and more directly, without the need for statements of special educational need in very many cases.'

Ms Lyne, 37, and Mr Wildgoose, 38, claim Shae's bad behaviour was in the form of shouting out in class, fidgeting, distracting other pupils, inattention and 'the odd kick and shove' rather than real violence or foul language.

Ms Lyne said a variety of sanctions applied by the school 'set him up to fail' because Shae was incapable of correcting his behaviour.

'They have got him down as a bad egg but he can't control himself in class. He needs help,' she said.

Shae had been very upset by his exlusion and had written a letter describing himself as horrible, an idiot and a loser, she added.

Mrs Swann said Cawston school did everything it could to support each child's needs. She added: 'Exclusion is always a last resort and we have a very low level of exclusions at our school. We work closely with parents or carers on the child's return to school to ensure that we can continue to support the child's needs.

'We follow our school policies on SEN, behaviour and exclusion as agreed by governors and take professional advice as required for all our children.

'We have a home-school agreement which outlines the responsibilities and expectations of the school, the family and the child. Our systems and strategies are successful when the family supports the school's caring ethos.'

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