Place strategy

Gravesend boy with special needs left without a place in school for a year

A boy with special needs has been without a place in school for a year.

Ethan Watson, 10, from Gravesend, no longer likes leaving home after leaving mainstream education since June 2021.

His mother, Georgia Still, said her previous school was “unable to keep him safe”, so she made the decision to kick him out.

Ethan has ASD, ADHD, and additional speech and language needs.

Miss Still said: ‘During Ethan’s time at school he was labeled ‘the naughty kid’, ‘the kid who doesn’t listen’ and ‘hard work’.

“I asked the school for meetings about meetings to try to come up with strategies that would help Ethan.

“At each meeting, the school informally admitted that it could not meet Ethan’s needs and was unable to protect him.”

In June 2021, Ethan came home from school extremely upset and upset after an incident, but his mother still doesn’t know what happened.

Ethan Watson with mom Georgia Still

She said: “His mental health suffered. Enough was enough.

“He often came home from school upset, but that day he said he was kept in a bathroom and broke everything.”

Miss Still pulled Ethan out of school and had hoped to find him a special needs place.

Little did she know she would still be fighting a year later to get her son back into a classroom.

Kent County Council (KCC) has made seven school applications for Ethan in the past year, but Miss Still feels more should be done.

The 28-year-old added: “He’s in pain. His social skills are practically non-existent. He doesn’t like leaving the house.

Miss Still thinks KCC should do more to help her son
Miss Still thinks KCC should do more to help her son

“The only kids he interacts with are my friends’ kids.”

Six months after being taken out of school, Ethan was provided with a home tutor for two hours a day, paid for by KCC.

But Ms Still said the sessions only taught him maths and English, and ‘didn’t help Ethan’s social interaction or the rest of his learning’.

The sessions ended at the end of the fiscal year in April, due to a funding dispute between the tutor provider and KCC.

Since then, Mrs. Still has been trying to homeschool Ethan, but she says it’s been a struggle.

She had to stop working because he is home during the day and she suffers from anxiety and depression.

She said, “I try my best but I’m not a teacher.”

Of Kent's 260,824 pupils, 19,500 had an education, health and care plan in 2021.
Of Kent’s 260,824 pupils, 19,500 had an education, health and care plan in 2021.

Ethan has an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan) which is a legally binding document that outlines a child’s special educational needs and outlines any additional help and support they require.

Miss Still said: “It is clearly stated in Ethan’s medical notes that he has speech and language needs, ADHD, autism and has difficulty communicating with his peers in the best case scenario, let alone after a lockdown Ethan needs to have a SEN school in place.

“I don’t know why they can’t apply for more schools.

“I told them transport was no problem. I can drive so I’m ready to take it anywhere, I told them.

“I’m going around in circles. We’ve had five or six different social workers. I currently don’t know how to help my son.”

Of Kent’s 260,824 pupils, 19,500 had an EHCP in 2021.

An investigation by the Office of Investigative Journalism found that KCC funding has failed to meet demand for EHCPs and places in SEN schools.

KCC has been contacted for comment.