Birmingham school places: Boy with autism 'let down'

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Image caption,
Mikey, seven, has severe autism and has been out of school for a year

The parents of a boy with autism who has been out of school for a year said their son has been let down and "desperately" needs to go back.

Gemma and Chris Fenton said they had not been able to find a school that meets their son Mikey's needs as specialist schools are all full.

Mikey, seven, is one of 79 children with special needs in Birmingham waiting for a place, the council said.

Mr and Mrs Fenton said they were "watching [their son] suffer".

Image caption,
Gemma Fenton said she was struggling to cope with looking after Mikey as well as his two siblings, Sophia and Samuel

He was excluded from mainstream education last year, the couple said, and they decided not to send him back because "we weren't going to put him through that any more".

"We had to restrain him at points and he was begging me not to leave him," Mrs Fenton said.

"I'd find him under tables crying. It was heartbreaking."

'Ten times worse'

In March, Birmingham City Council recognised Mikey was eligible for a place at a specialist school, but no places were available.

"And then lockdown happened and things got 10 times worse," said Mrs Fenton.

Mr Fenton had to give up work to help care for Mikey and the couple's two other children, aged three and six.

"It's beyond desperate, we can't put into words how bad it is," he said.

The council said it had offered home tuition to Mikey, but Mr Fenton said the couple would keep fighting for a school place as he's "still not socially interacting with people his own age".

"He's been let down by everybody."

The authority added it was "confident... placements of provision will be identified in the very near future" for all 79 children in Mikey's position.

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