A MOTHER has accused a school of neglecting and failing her disabled son after he was forced to painfully sit mock exams with no provisions in place.

William O’Brian, 16, from Frinton, has attended Tendring Technology College since Year 7 and is due to take his final GCSE exams next year.

In both 2016 and 2017 William, who battles anxiety and depression, endured major hip operations due to suffering with slipped upper femoral epiphysis.

The condition occurs in teenagers when the ball at the head of the thighbone slips off the neck of the bone in a backwards direction.

As a result, throughout his time at Tendring Technology College William has either been confined to a wheelchair or had to use crutches.


In letters previously sent to the school in 2017, which have been seen by the Gazette, doctors highlighted William’s inability to fully mobilise without discomfort.

They also said he would need assistance with travelling between his classes and short breaks during lessons, and that risk assessments should take place.

According to mum Nicola O’Brian these measures have remained in place ever since and she therefore has no doubt school bosses are aware of William’s disabilities.

Despite this, Nicola says her son was forced to take four out of eight mock exams last week without any provisions in place to accommodate his needs.

She said: “William has constant pain in his hips and back, so can’t be seated for long without a break so usually his tests are separate so he does not disturb others.

“The school was well aware of his long-term disability but demanded new medical evidence or they said they would not provide anything for him.

“I was told on the phone that the headteacher Michael Muldoon was not going to support William this time or put any emergency measures in place.

“Imagine being asked to sit on a hard chair, on a rock, with a painful hip and cramps for nearly two hours, unable to move to get comfortable.”

The former NHS worker says she stressed on many occasions ahead of the exam dates the need for special arrangements to be established for William.

She claims these concerns were never addressed and she kept being fobbed off or ignored, despite her persistence.

She also does not believe an an up-to-date risk assessment could have been done by the school, otherwise teachers would not have questioned his condition.

She added: “I have spent months begging the school for help with his risk assessment and provision for his exams.

“Every year we have to fight to get his risk assessment, and this year he has not had a risk assessment at all, but if he falls or slips he cannot be moved.

“In my opinion this is a safeguarding issue and clearly disability discrimination from the school and it has shamefully failed him.

“The school has a duty of care to make sure provision is in place and in good time and to give him a level playing field and not put him at a disadvantage.”


After being made to endure four of the mock exams over two days without any assistance, the school eventually performed a U-turn on their initial ruling.

Mrs O’Brian is now worried William’s final grades will suffer if GCSE results once again end up being based on mock exams because of Covid-19.

She said: “Putting him in the normal exams puts him at a distinct disadvantage and he should have been given extra time, so he could stand up and take medication.

“If they cancel the exams again, then all these tests will count towards the teacher’s assessment, but he was disadvantaged for four out of eight exams.

“When schools fail in the most basic duty of care, it makes you question how they cope, or do not cope, with more complex issues.

“William has slipped through the net here and been neglected, and if they are doing this to him, it is likely this is happening to other kids too.”


A spokesman for Tendring Technology College has now responded to the accusations made by Mrs O’Brian.

“We take every care to ensure that children who qualify for exam dispensation measures get them,” they said.

“On this occasion, we did require some medical documentation and once that had been provided, we responded quickly and were able to put the appropriate measures in place.”