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Mother of ADHD student suspended 13 times criticises Islington Council for 'blocking' move to special needs school

PUBLISHED: 17:30 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:36 15 October 2019

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

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The mother of a child with ADHD who was suspended 13 times last year has slammed Islington Council for frustrating his move to a special needs school.

Ann Dowling. Picture: SuppliedsAnn Dowling. Picture: Supplieds

Ann Dowling wants Charlie, 13, to leave City of London Academy Islington (COLAI) and join Leaways special needs school in Theydon Road, Clapton, so he can access more support.

She's home schooled Charlie since the summer and has been trying to force through the move - but experts on Islington's education health and management board are weighing up what's best for him.

They are considering whether he should be allowed to join Leaways, stay at COLAI or be sent to Islington's New River College pupil referral unit.

Ann said: "They're trying to make a decision without my consent between schools. New River College is a unit. He shouldn't go to a unit. Charlie is not a naughty child. How can they not ask my permission?"

Ann can challenge any decision she disagrees with at an independent tribunal.

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She added: "Year 9 is a vital year. They are messing with my son's future and his anxiety.

"This is why Charlie's been excluded 13 times. The [COLAI] administrators said to my face they can't meet his needs. I'm not complaining about the school because it was their advice to take him to Leaways - but the council are taking the mick."

Charlie added: "I want to go to a school where they would understand me. They would understand me more [at Leaways] because it's a school for different children with ADHD and autism."

Referring to his suspensions at COLAI, he added: "I felt it was unfair because sometimes I did do wrong but sometimes they sent me home because they couldn't deal with me for a second. If I had a little wobble they would say: 'You have to go straight home' because they couldn't help me, which made me feel bad because I shouldn't be missing out on my education."

Clare Vega, executive principal of COLAI, said: "We are committed to helping give every student a learning environment which will support them in achieving their potential."

A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation, which sponsors COLAI, said: "All our Special Educational Needs students are supported through their individual plans. We are fully committed to giving every pupil an environment which helps them achieve their full academic and personal potential."

An Islington Council spokesperson added: "We understand Ms Dowling would like things to move more quickly. We are carefully considering her request, but unfortunately these highly important decisions that affect children's lives do take time."

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