A mum says she fears her son has been “neglected and harmed” after his experience at a Nottinghamshire special needs school near Ravenshead.
The woman, whose eight-year-old son has autism and is non-verbal, says he has not yet had a chance at education due to problems at the school.
Her son attended Harlow Academy before it was shut down by Ofsted in January 2022 after inspectors found some children’s “basic needs weren’t being met”.
The mum, who did not wish to be named, also described how her son has had his Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) “watered down” by the council.
The plans list specialist help a child may need such as speech and language therapy.
The school says it continues to liaise with the family to “provide the best possible care”.
The mum said she first noticed changes in her son when he was at Harlow Academy.
She said: “He was getting angry and biting his own hands. My son is incontinent and he was coming home sore.
“He was in agony and he was screaming because he couldn’t sit on his bum.
“I couldn’t work out why and I wouldn’t have dared question the school.”
The school, which was then run by the Evolve Trust, was closed down and her son now attends Fountaindale School, which is in the same building but under an entirely different provider, the Nexus Trust.
But the mum says she still has concerns that the school is not safe after she witnessed an incident involving her son in April 2023.
The mum said: “One day, I brought him into the classroom and had a full sensory meltdown.
“The classroom was absolutely chaotic when I walked in. He tried to take himself off to a corner to get away from the other children. He was lying on his front and kicking his legs.
“There was a child that tried to pull his shoes off, another child walked over with a plastic chair and tried to sit on his back. A third child then reached over grabbing his eyes and scratched him in the face.
“I didn’t recognise any of the staff and I didn’t feel like it was safe.”
She said after the incident she complained to Nottinghamshire County Council that the breakout space her son should have, as listed in his EHCP plan, was not available.
She said: “I feel like four years of his life have been wasted. He’s only got one chance at an education and he hasn’t had that chance yet.
“It makes me feel like a failure. I know he could achieve so much more if the right support was in place for him.
“I think he’s been harmed and neglected [over the last four years] and it has had a detrimental impact on him.
“Sometimes he sobs at night and he pushes me away because I think he knows I can’t help him.”
Responding to concerns over the incident in April, a spokesperson for the school said: “The safety and wellbeing of all our pupils is of the utmost importance.
“As such, as soon as this matter was raised with our team, we ensured swift and effective action was taken, by appropriate and experienced staff, to provide the necessary support.”
They said they continue to liaise with the family to “provide the best possible care”.
They added: “We have worked tirelessly to transform the school to meet the unique and complex care and learning needs of the children in our community.
“This has, in some instances, resulted in changes to provision, but in every instance, this is in line with best practice, informed by expert recommendations and with the child’s best interests at heart.
“When any changes are introduced – be that to a care plan, timetable or classroom – we always communicate with our parents to build mutual understanding and trust and provide an opportunity to ask any questions.”
Peter McConnochie, Nottinghamshire County Council’s Service Director, Education, Learning and Inclusion, said: “We understand that the timeliness of issuing EHCP’s is important to families.
“The council seeks to work with parents to reach a plan that they are happy with and that meets the needs of their child, meaning that, on occasion, plans can stay in draft for some time while conversations are ongoing and details are agreed.”
He added the responsibility for the implementation of an EHCP lies with schools.
“When a complaint about a plan, or the school provision, is raised directly with the local authority, officers seek to work with both the parent and the school to provide support”, he said.