A Northamptonshire mother whose autistic son has been out of school for over a year says masses of red tape are leaving youngsters like him left in educational limbo - and fears he may have to wait even longer to get a place.
Victoria Watts’ nine-year-old son Isaiah has a number of behavioural issues and is prone to outbursts of frustration.
In 2013 he started a fire in her bedroom, which triggered the need for Isaiah to be assessed for autism and attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) by mental health services.
But because he spent two more years waiting for an official diagnosis, mum Victoria claims she was left in limbo as to where she could send him to school.
She had to take him out of mainstream education in 2014 after a string of difficulties, she says, because she believed he needed to be around other children with the same difficulties.
But without the bit of paper to say he had autism, Victoria has not been able to get him a place in a specialist school and mainstream schools have said they are not equipped to deal with him.
Finally, in June this year he was given the autism diagnosis, but it was too late for him to get a place at a specialist school in September.
Now his full time carer mum Victoria, 38, of Sulgrave, fears he may now have to wait another year before he can go back into a classroom.
“He hasn’t had the opportunity to interact with other children in all that time,” she said.
“He is a high functioning child and all that resilience he built up in society is going, it’s affecting his self esteem.
“We feel like we have just dropped of the grid.
“I just can’t comprehend another six months of this.”
Victoria was hoping to be able send Isaiah to Chilworth House Day Special School in Oxfordshire at the start of the school term this week. Currently Isaiah is receiving four hours of home tuition a week.
In order to do so she needs the approval of Northamptonshire County council, which rules on whether a child is eligible for specialist schooling.
After waiting 20 weeks for the council to return an educational healthcare plan for Isaiah, it finally arrived in June. But it did not designate him a school as she hoped.
In another agonising twist, her appeal against the decision is not due to be heard until January, 2016.
Now Victoria says she has written to the education minster Nicky Morgan to express her disgust at the slow pace of bureaucracy.
“If the county council would authorise Chilworth House, my son could start school in September,” she said. “I want to get the attention of the education minister and raise awareness for all the parents in similar situations to mine.
“There are children county wide who are out of school and there is little support or funding to assist families.”
A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “While we are unable to comment on individual cases, we work closely with schools and families to identify whether pupils have special educational needs. When the needs assessment is under way, we can consider alternative schooling arrangements such as home tuition. We will then make a decision about their needs taking into account the views of the school, the wishes of the parents and the best use of resources as outlined in our Special Educational Needs code of practice.”