Northampton mum claims council is ‘blocking’ severely disabled daughter from a specialist education

The mother says she has recommendations from healthcare professionals stating that her daughter needs the education she is being denied

Saturday, 16th July 2022, 7:38 am

A Northampton mother has criticised the council following a battle to get her severely disabled daughter in specialist education.

Lauren Bunting, from Duston, has been applying for months to West Northamptonshire Council to give her five-year-old daughter Connie an Education Other Than at School (EOTAS), which is an education outside of a school setting.

However, despite recommendations from healthcare professionals, Lauren says she being denied EOTAS by WNC.

Lauren and Connie

The issue is being taken to a tribunal where Lauren is representing herself and her daughter and she will be taking on WNC’s legal representatives.

Lauren, aged 31, said: "Connie’s tribunal was supposed to be this week. It has been delayed because sadly the tribunal service is so overwhelmed with cases like ours that should never even get to tribunal because the evidence is so clear.

"I have professional reports saying Connie's needs cannot be met in a school environment and she should be given this out of school education package. There is a huge weight of evidence to support Connie. It's totally unjust.

"Parents with children without these needs do not have to fight for their child's education. Why should we have to have these huge battles?”

Lauren believes the legal battle is just a delaying tactic.

"This is not unique to us. There are many, many families locally and nationally in exactly the same boat. We're not alone in this.

"I want things to change for Connie but I also want people to be aware of what's actually going on, what WNC is spending taxpayer money on and how many children are messed about.

"If this is the battle at this point just for an education, what on earth is it going to be like as she grows? Is this it? We're never going to have any support? Or any understanding or any help? What happens when I die?"

"If I failed to ensure my child was educated, I would be prosecuted. Yet we have local authorities blocking children from being educated.”

When asked about how the country treats and views disabled people, Lauren said: "What infuriates me is this country does have the money, it's just being used in the wrong places. MPs being given pay rises, the education budget is being paid to barristers to fight parents like me rather than just spending it on the children's education.

"We can't be writing disabled people off as useless and not able to contribute. I think that's what's going on, there's an assumption that they will never be a taxpayer so they're not worth investing in. I genuinely think that is what's happening in this country."

A spokesperson for West Northamptonshire Council said: “Every child has the right to an education which is fit for their needs and West Northamptonshire Council will do all it can to make sure children and families receive the support they need in finding this.

“We cannot comment on individual cases but we can say that we are working hard to expand the number of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) places within West Northants and give parents greater choice. There will be 500 additional places available in the authority over the next few years.”