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‘I’m at my wits’ end because council won’t let me home school autistic son’

A mum is at her wits’ end after the local council “refused” to let her home school her autistic son.

Alexandra and Giani Fodor, from Harrow, London, said their 11-year-old son David regularly suffers panic attacks at his current school.

David is due to start at secondary education in September but Harrow Council has yet to find him a place at a suitable school.

He recently had an epileptic fit, accompanied by a number of seizures, MyLondon reports.

Heartbroken mum Alexandra said: “It’s so difficult watching him struggle. He finds it really hard to make friends and he has a lot of additional support needs.

“Every day when he comes home, he tells me that he is waking up anxious. He is just not able to progress in a mainstream school the way other children can.

“His current school is even saying that they can’t meet his needs.”

David is currently a pupil at Whitefriars School, just a five minute walk from their home, but the problem with it being a mainstream school is that staff are unable to cope with his special educational needs.

The school wrote to them to tell him that David would no longer benefit from continuing his learning journey with them.

In a letter addressed to Alexandra from headteacher Mr Watson, and seen by MyLondon, he wrote: “We must conclude that it would be ineffective and unfair on David to place him in our mainstream secondary setting when he so clearly needs additional support that we cannot provide and where his progress, and in fact his future life chances, would be limited.”

He added that ‘a special school is the appropriate placement for David’.

Initially, Alexandra and Giani found a new school nearby which is specifically designed for children with autism.

They claim they were told that there was a 99 per cent chance of him being enrolled.

In the past few weeks, the family was told that David no longer had a place at that school – sending them back to square one.

With the family running out of time and options before David is due to start secondary school in September, they claim they enquired whether it would be possible to teach their son at home, but were told that it would not be possible.

After going back and forth with a caseworker at Harrow Council, the pair say they have battled to come up with solutions which will benefit David in the long term and give him ‘the education he deserves’.

People with autism often face huge struggles in the classroom, far more than their counterparts.

Alexandra says that the biggest challenge David currently faces is getting timely intervention that will allow him to ‘reach his full potential’.

The family say they are now in contact with a lawyer who is willing to take up David’s case, in a bid to help appeal against the decision.

They insist they will continue to fight to get him a place in a school appropriate for him.

The lawyers fees together with all the assessments needed to prove that David must attend one of these schools tallies up to £20,000.

Alexandra has been forced to quit her job to help look after David, while they have already spent a lot of their savings trying to raise money, putting a huge strain on their family resources.

A spokesman for Harrow Council said: “We do our best to ensure all special needs pupils are offered a school place that is suitable for their needs.

“In this case, the parent’s preferred school deemed it would not have a suitable peer group for David. The parents can appeal this decision to the SEND tribunal. At present there are no other suitable special schools with vacancies.

“We empathise with David and his parents – and will continue to work with his existing school to ensure he is supported until an appropriate placement can be found.”

Emails seen from a Harrow Council caseworker sent to Alexandra explain that ‘David is a high priority’ when it comes to finding him a special needs school – but there is currently no capacity to offer further assessments or school places.

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help the family pay for the assessments which they say will help David secure a spot at a special school. So far, £790 has been raised out of the £5,000 target.