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Autistic boy ‘discriminated against and left to play Nintendo DS’ at St Mary’s Islington C of E Primary School

PUBLISHED: 12:46 05 March 2019

Stock image of a Nintendo DS. Picture: sa?a??a? ???s?? / Flikr Creative Commons

Stock image of a Nintendo DS. Picture: sa?a??a? ???s?? / Flikr Creative Commons

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An autistic boy has been without education for three months after he was “discriminated against” and left to play video games at an Essex Road primary school, claims his mother.

Leah Payne, 26, claims her five-year-old son Daniel was encouraged to play a Nintendo DS and watch movies in the corner rather than engage with lessons at his former St Mary’s C of E Primary School, in Fowler Road.

Headteacher Genevieve Prayag said she’s “saddened” by these claims, which the school hasn’t commented on due to data protection.

Daniel is said to have been “left behind” when his former Year 1 classmates went on weekly visits to the library and school trips, such as a theatre visit – his mum said this left him distressed and ostracised from other pupils.

“It has been an ongoing battle,” Leah told the Gazette last week. “A nightmare. They’ve done nothing to support us.

“I really didn’t want to pull him out of St Mary’s but I did [on November 23] because he wasn’t receiving a proper education, I felt I had no choice.

“I was doing everything I could but he just wasn’t being included. I had to bring in DVDs and it felt like he was being pushed in a corner.”

Daniel was diagnosed with autism in January last year, making him entitled to an Education Health and Care Plan (ECHP), which should unlock extra government funding for one-to-one support. But Leah says he still wasn’t on a plan when she pulled him out of school 10 months later.

Leah says she’s now applied for one on Daniel’s behalf, which is being registered by the Department for Education.

She also alleges that Daniel was the last child allowed into class and had to be picked up early each day, so that ended up missing an extra 30 minutes to an hour of lessons a week,

The single mother, who lives off Essex Road with Daniel and another seven-month-year-old, claims the stress has exacerbated her own mental health problems.

Genevieve Prayag, headteacher at St Mary’s Church of England Primary School, said: “I was sad to hear about these claims, but we are unable to comment on individual pupils for data protection reasons.

“I can say that this does not reflect the school’s ethos. I am proud of the friendly and nurturing environment at St Mary’s, which is a high-performing school thanks to the continued commitment of our school staff team, leaders, governors, children, parents and school partners.

“Our aim is to ensure all of our children receive the appropriate support to meet their needs and allow them to achieve their potential. Our skilled specialists and teachers are dedicated to this, working closely with outside special needs agencies to ensure excellent provision, strategies and access arrangements are in place. I have full confidence that together we meet the needs of all our children.”

St Mary’s has been rated “Good” by Ofsted since 2012.

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