School accused of failing Grantham boy
The parents of a 12-year-old boy are demanding an apology from the school they say has ‘failed him’.
Stacey and Simon Clay accept their child has mental health issues but they say West Grantham Academy St Hugh’s should have done more to help.
Their son William started at the school last September, with the parents saying the academy told them their son would have “everything in place for his needs.”
William has front lobal brain damage, which causes him to be on the aspergers spectrum. He also has ADHD, autism and mental health issues.
Before he went to West Grantham Academy St Hughs, they say William did ‘really well’ at Huntingtower School.
Ambergate, which specialises in teaching children with additional needs, had a place for him but the parents say they were ‘encouraged’ to send him to St Hughs.
An educational health and care plan was created, saying William needed one-to-one tuition.
But after two weeks at St Hughs, the couple say William’s tutor “could not cope” and they needed to find someone else to accommodate him.
Stacey, a 37-year-old private housekeeper, said: “After two weeks, it all went pear-shaped. His behaviour got worse. He felt he wasn’t accepted at the school and tried to commit suicide.”
On June 4, this year, the school rang to say they would exclude William for five days “due to staffing levels and there was no-one there to assist his needs because his behaviour had spiralled.”
Stacey said William was excluded for a further five days.
He was dropped off at 9am every Monday afterwards and the parents say they would receive a call ten minutes later to say he was excluded again.
Stacey added: “There was no explanation other than he was causing havoc and they can’t cope with him.”
Stacey and Simon, a 42-year-old warehouse worker, decided to home school William but after a while they received a letter from the authorities saying he had to go to school. Taking time off from work also used up their savings.
The couple were then promised two hours a day on the Meadows section of St Hughs, where William would be taught with other children.
On another day, William recorded on his ipad three teachers stood against a wall and when he asked for help, Stacey says the teachers mocked William’s stammer and he was mocked by other children too.
Nothing was done and the school took William’s ipad away because of the recording.
Having no ipad also stopped him from doing his homework, as the parents say William was told he could not do it on pen and paper.
Stacey continued: “William’s behaviour became really challenging and we lost him as a person. They continued to expel him every Monday and we took him out, never to return.”
The parents spoke to William’s caseworker about going to Ambergate and while this was being sorted out, William told them of times when he would go to classes and be told he was not allowed in.
“Several times he came home crying saying they would not let him into the class.”
The couple wrote several letters of complaint to the school and contacted Grantham MP Nick Boles, who passed on details of the complaints procedure they would have to go through.
Stacey said she sent a letter of complaint three weeks ago and has not heard back from the school.
Last month, William started at Ambergate.
Stacey added: “We have got our boy back. His behaviour is now top form and he’s in the top five for maths.
“He had no schooling since last September. He was allowed to run riot. I want an apology.”
Noting the contrast in William’s behaviour, Simon added: “It’s like someone has a magic wand.”
When the Journal contacted the school, Susan Dench, executive headteacher of the West Grantham Academies Trust, said: “I am sure you will appreciate that in order to safeguard all our children, we do not discuss them with anyone other than the appropriate agencies, and it is certainly not appropriate for us to do this in the press.
“Like all schools and academies we do have procedures which parents and carers can follow as outlined in our policies.
“As a small Church of England academy, we get to know our students extremely well, and work closely with our families and associated agencies. Many comment on the family atmosphere when visiting us.
“The staff care very deeply about all our students; in the recent (Feb 2018) Ofsted report it is noted “…pupils receive extensive support and are treated with great care.”