THE mother of a severely dyslexic boy says she fears for his health because he has been refused a place at a specialist school.
Charlotte Kinloch wants her son Rory, 11, to attend Moon Hall College, which specialises in teaching dyslexic children and is less than two miles from their home in The Glebe, Leigh, Surrey.
But after a series of assessments and tribunals, they were told he must attend a “mainstream” school, so he started at The Priory in Dorking on Tuesday.
Mrs Kinloch, 51, told the Dorking Advertiser: “I think The Priory is an excellent school and if Rory didn’t have severe dyslexia I would be delighted to send him there.
“But his range of difficulties are so deeply embedded he requires a small, specialist establishment with dyslexia-trained teachers in small classes where the curriculum is specifically taught to dyslexic needs.”
Rory attended primary schools in Brockham and Reigate – neither of which were equipped to deal with his condition, according to Mrs Kinloch – and he has recently developed chronic fatigue.
Mrs Kinloch said: “Rory is a bright child and acutely aware of the difference between him and the majority of his peers regarding the ability to learn to read and write, and this has had a major impact on his confidence and self-esteem.
“We strongly feel that it has been the stress and unhappiness he has felt at school that caused his health to deteriorate.”
Last month an independent tribunal ruled in favour of Surrey County Council (SCC) and ordered Rory to attend The Priory, but Mrs Kinloch is planning to appeal. “I don’t want to give up,” she said. “It just makes me more determined the longer it goes on.
“I know money is tight and I don’t want money spent inappropriately. But I don’t consider going to a tribunal and employing lawyers and causing children to get ill a good use of time and money.
“I fear for Rory’s education and I fear for his health. Putting him in that big school environment, trying to find his way around, would be very stressful. It is really going to be difficult.”
She added: “All children have a right to be educated according to their needs but, it would seem, not in Surrey.
“For the severely dyslexic child it is the equivalent of putting a child in a wheelchair at the bottom of a huge flight of stairs and saying ‘up you go, everyone else can do it’.
Mrs Kinloch believes there are dozens of dyslexic children facing the same problem, and called on the council to improve its services.
She said: “This has been a very isolating and unhappy experience for Rory and myself. I would be grateful if people would contact me who may have had similar experiences, as so many seem to go under the radar.”
The Advertiser has seen a letter from Judith Constable, head teacher of Sandcross Primary School in Reigate, where Rory was a pupil, stating that Surrey is “ill-equipped” to deal with dyslexia.
She wrote: “Many heads would agree that the lack of specialist provision for dyslexic children is a concern.
“If SCC is having to pay for expensive placements in the private sector, it is because the appropriate provision is not available in the current mainstream environments and the support services available to primary schools are overstretched.”
An SCC spokeswoman said: “An independent tribunal supported our decision regarding Rory. However, as his mother intends to appeal the tribunal’s verdict, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further as it could be prejudicial to the outcome of the appeal.”
This piece was first published in the Dorking Advertiser.