Autistic boy, 11, has no school place due to Newham Council admin error

Ashton Hussain and mum Marie Thomas

Ashton Hussain and mum Marie Thomas - Credit: Marie Thomas

An admin blunder has left a severely autistic boy without a secondary school place more than a week after the start of the new term.

Ashton Hussain of Linton Gardens, Beckton, had his spot at Cumberland School taken by another child due to a Newham Council employee forgetting to tell teachers he was disabled.

Desperate mum Marie Thomas has since rung the Special Educational Needs (SEN) office more than 30 times to find a place for Ashton, 11, who has the mental age of a two-year-old.

“They admitted if my son wasn’t disabled he would have been in school right now,” said Marie.

“I was crying my eyes out yesterday,” she said. “It shouldn’t be happening to one disabled child in 2017.”


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The single mum-of-four’s troubles started on May 3 when Cumberland School sent Ashton an offer letter requesting parent and son visit the mixed comprehensive on May 17.

“Lots of kids were going to be there so I thought that is not the kind of letter you will be sent if your son has autism,” said Marie.

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She made a query with the school but received another letter soon after stating Ashton no longer had a place as SEN had not completed the correct paperwork in time.

Marie has spent the last four months trying to get the mix-up rectified and was assured a secondary school would be available as late as last week.

“Until Thursday, no-one had apologised to me,” she said. “I said how can Newham Council not know how many disabled children there are.”

The 32-year-old says Ashton is currently being diagnosed with ADHD and needs a school structure to “calm down” with activities such as music and drawing.

“He’s a destructive child, he’s hyper.” she said. “It is very stressful because my son cannot be left alone. He has to come to the toilet with me.”

A council spokeswoman said: “We are sorry for the delay in securing a school place in time for the start of the new term, and the council is working closely with Ms Thomas to find a solution as soon as possible.”

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