Mum's fears for future after son misses education
A MOTHER has spoken of her frustration and fears that her teenage son will get "lost in the system" after he left mainstream education.
Nicola Bowden, of Burrows Road, Skewen, contacted the Post after hitting a brick wall in trying to get 14-year-old Callum into a suitable educational facility, as he is diagnosed with ADHD and Aspergers.
Callum was pulled out of mainstream school at Dwr y Felin in November last year, after struggles to cope with social interaction became too much.
"Dwr y Felin had been extremely supportive," said Mrs Bowden. "Especially Lisa Thomas and Penny Pete. They trialled lots of different techniques and strategies, but unfortunately I was left with no other alternative than to remove him."
Callum then had to be absent for an eight week period before home tutoring could be accessed. But in January, when this began, the teenager — who has hopes of being in the Royal Welch — was only given five hours per week.
"He is a very bright and academically capable child, he just needed to be in the right environment for his needs," said Mrs Bowden.
She claimed that she had previously been told Callum was top of the list for a placement at the Bryncoch pupil referral unit, which serves pupils with special educational needs. But she was later told that a mistake had been made — and Callum would be unable to access a place for another year.
Instead, he attended a Cyber Cafe in Port Talbot. But after four weeks he was again removed because he was bullied and beaten up, claimed Mrs Bowden. She asked for home tuition to be put back in place, but was told it could no longer be accommodated, and Callum has been without education since May.
Mrs Bowden also made claims that she had been told by the LEA on the final day of term that the statement about Callum's needs had been signed off and he would be able to attend Cwmtawe - which has an ASD unit - or Bryncoch this month. She made an appointment to view Bryncoch, and contacted the team for advice last week.
"I then had a telephone call saying Callum's statement had not been approved and had in fact gone back to panel," she claimed.
"I could not believe what I was hearing, I had already sat my son down and had conversations with him to prepare him to view and start school this September. Yet again it has been ripped from under us.
"We are desperate for him to access a school for his needs. I'm afraid he's going to get lost in the system."
A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesman said: "The local authority has been working proactively with Callum's school and family to secure on-going educational provision."