Funding battle over disabled boy’s schooling

Rachel Taplin with her son Oliver
Rachel Taplin with her son Oliver
Portsmouth Grammar School pupils, back from left  to right: Sam Rush, Oliver Clark, Hermione Barrick, Michaela Clancy, Ilana Berney, Lizzy Greenfield, Charlotte Phillips, Grace Goodfellow, Caleb Barron, Robert Merriam. Front row, left to right: Katie Morrison, Gemma Webb, Lana Watt, Alfie Perry-Ward

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A MUM has told of her fury as her disabled son is unable to go to school amid a wrangle among council services about who should fund his place.

Rachel Taplin’s eight-year-old son Oliver has cerebral palsy and epilepsy and needs to go to a school for children with special educational needs.

But despite term already having started he cannot attend until a place is found and funding is secured.

Mrs Taplin, 32, said: ‘While they are arguing, Oliver is stuck at home.

‘Everyone is arguing because they don’t want to pay for him.

‘In amongst this is Oliver and he needs to be learning, even though he has health needs which can be managed with the right support.

‘They are undoing all the good work that was done last year.’

Last year, Oliver was stuck in a hospital bed as authorities fought over funding him to go to Young Epilepsy at St Piers School, in Surrey – a school that could cope with the numerous epileptic fits he was having a day.

Funding was eventually secured for one year, but due to changes in his medication and diet, Oliver is no longer having so many fits each day and can now go to a school near his home, in Sartoris Close, Warsash.

Mrs Taplin wants Oliver to go to The Cedar School in Southampton as she feels it is best placed for his age, education level and disability.

She said: ‘Just because someone is stable does not mean the underlying health issue is not there.

‘This situation is all down to people not wanting to make the decision so money can be spent. They are pushing it round in a circle.’

Mrs Taplin said that due to Oliver’s medication and diet, which needs to be administered every few hours, she is struggling to cope on a care package that has been reduced by the council from 150 to 78 hours.

Mrs Taplin, who is a single parent and has a two-year-old daughter, Jasmine, said she feels trapped in the house and is worried about Oliver’s development.

Councillor Keith Mans, executive member for children’s services at Hampshire County Council, said: ‘I fully understand Mrs Taplin’s concerns.

‘We all want to see the best outcome for Oliver, that will meet his particular needs.

‘This is a complex matter and we are working with the family and our colleagues in health to find the best solution possible.

‘Discussions with the family continue about Oliver’s schooling and the place.’