THE mother of an autistic child has hit out at Oxfordshire County Council after her son missed almost two years of education – and counting.

Oxford mum Rachel White said what has happened to her son is ‘unacceptable’.

She said her son Matthew White, 15, had a breakdown in December 2018 and locked himself in his room for three months, refusing to attend school, as he struggled with anxiety and depression.

It was decided that mainstream schooling was no longer a viable option for the then Cheney School pupil, and a special needs school placement was needed.

See also: Delayed vaccinations could lead to ‘possible child death’

Mrs White said: “Matthew went through Year 7 quite well but in Year 8, it became apparent that he wasn’t coping and that’s when he spent three months in his bedroom.

“He was given anti-depressants and had a psychiatrist. Cheney were fantastic though, we tried home tutoring, he would go in once a week and we took things slowly.

“We then decided as a team that Cheney couldn’t meet his needs even though the SEND team was fantastic. There was just no way he would cope in a mainstream school anymore.”

In December 2019, Mrs White set about the ‘long and drawn out, exceptionally complicated process’ of applying for an EHCP.

Witney Gazette:

An EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) is designed for children and young people aged up to 25 who need more support than is available through special educational needs support.

The plan identifies educational, health and social needs, and sets out the additional support to meet those needs.

An assessment for an EHCP is carried out by local authorities, in Mrs White’s case, the county council.

In May of this year, Mrs White said the final plan was sorted for the EHCP.

Read more: Debut novel predicted pandemic and events of 2020

Mrs White, who cut her hours at work to be with Matthew said that when she got the EHCP in May, she thought progress was being made.

However, she said she then failed to hear from the council for four months.

“The next time we heard anything from the local authority was in September but by this point Matthew had spent two years at home without full-time education.

“At the end of the day, children his age are doing their GCSEs, while Matthew was just sat at home.

“I emailed the SEND officer so many times, telephoned them many times too and for four months, had no communication from them whatsoever.

See more: New home nightmare as family house starts to fall apart

“Eventually a council officer got back to me after I’d put in a complaint, it’s horrendous for a parent to go through.

“There’s lots of children in the same situation as Matthew yet every child has a legal right to have 30 hours of education a week.

“He’s not the only one they’ve failed, it’s a parent’s worst nightmare.

“It’s a long and drawn out process but it’s unacceptable how it’s been dealt with.

Read more: Community helps beloved animal sanctuary to reopen

“Schools were shut by the pandemic and unfortunately children lost out on education for six months, my son has lost out for two years and will probably never be able to catch up.

“We’re now going to see whether he can be placed in a special needs school in Oxford or Oxfordshire.”

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “Oxfordshire County Council is currently proceeding at pace with the process of placement for a number of young people.

“The issue of insufficient specialist placements is not unique to Oxfordshire.

“It is common across the country with a rise in demand for assessments and Education, Health and Care Plans. We are working hard to resolve this situation.”