Birmingham & Black Country

Daniel Webster: Boy with leg amputated faces school place battle

Daniel Webster Image copyright Trina Webster
Image caption Daniel Webster has Autism Spectrum Disorder and also suffers with Selective Mutism

An autistic boy who had his leg amputated is battling for a secondary school place.

Daniel Webster, 11, has missed school for two years due to illness and school refusal - also known as school phobia.

Trina Webster said she had letters from mainstream and special schools saying they could not cater for his needs.

Dudley Council said it was committed to giving children "the means to reach their full potential."

Mrs Webster, of Halesowen, spoke to the BBC after seeing Newsnight's investigation into why 1,500 children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) are without a school place in England.

Daniel was six when doctors found he had a tumour in his hip and thigh, said Mrs Webster.

He was signed off from primary school in 2017 as medically unfit when he was given morphine and other drugs to manage the pain.

In 2018, he had to have his leg amputated.

Image copyright Trina Webster
Image caption Daniel's mum said he had coped very well after the operation to remove his leg

"He had the operation in March but he was doing so well by May we wanted to see if he was ready to go back to school, but it was too soon. He started 'school refusing'," said Mrs Webster.

School refusal is a recognised psychological condition in which children develop an inherent fear of attending school. Daniel also suffers with selective mutism, an anxiety disorder that affects the ability to speak and communicate.

He did not return to primary school but has been been receiving tuition from Cherry Tree Learning Centre, which helps children who have emotional and physical needs.

Now 11, he is due to start secondary school in September, and Mrs Webster said she applied to several special needs schools.

"Mainstream schools will be noisy and too much pressure for him," she said.

"But they all turned us down. One said he would be isolated because there was no peer group for him. Another said his needs were too complex."

Instead, the Websters were told Daniel had a place at Earls High School in Dudley. Mrs Webster said the school had previously told her it did not have the facilities to cater for her son.

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The family will now attend a tribunal in July at Dudley Council to try to find Daniel a suitable place at a special school.

"I'm not sending him to a school where he's going to fail, where he's not going to cope," said Mrs Webster.

"It's so frustrating. It's not just his physical needs, it's emotional too. We don't want him in a noisy, pressure-filled environment."

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "Working in conjunction with health and education providers, we are determined to provide the best possible outcomes for pupils with Send or additional health needs and we have recently appointed two specialist education officers to support and advice parents and carers."

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