A DESPERATE mum whose ten-year-old son has been kept out of school for almost two years fears her child is being left behind.

Leeanne Welham, 30, says her son Tommy, who has autism, ADHD and sensory processing disorder, has lost the ability to socialise with other children.

While he is able to interact with his brother and sister, both aged seven, his 18 months outside of a classroom has left him isolated.

Single mum Leeanne said since her son was deemed unsuitable for a mainstream school, she has been unable to find him a place at any nearby special needs school.

Tommy has been under a council-run education, health and care plan (EHCP), which was put in place to assess his needs.

“When he was in a mainstream school they were trying to get him into an SEN school, but they couldn’t find him a place elsewhere,” said Leeanne.

“Because of his social and emotional issues he was being bulled, children can be really nasty.

“They asked things like ‘why can’t you read, why can’t you talk properly’, I was constantly being called in.

“Tommy wouldn’t tell me about it, it was only through other parents, who were told by classmates who were concerned about him.”


Leeanne said Tommy’s autism leaves him unable to cope with loud noises and large groups of people.

But his removal from the school environment has left his social skills stunted.

She said: “All he wanted was to have a friend and that’s still his wish now, just wants to be able to have a friend.

“But he's been out of school so long he doesn’t know how to play with other children, his social skills have dropped.”

Tommy has been turned down for places at special needs schools Market Field, in Elmstead Market, and Colchester’s Doucecroft School.

“I’ve been told Market Field is 300 places over-subscribed,” said Leeanne.

“Everyone is getting places, or has already got places, for September now and I’m not sure whether we will have to wait another year.”

Gazette: Leanne with her son TommyLeanne with her son Tommy

Home tutor visits provided for Tommy by the council proved unsuccessful and Leeanne has been unable to find work due to her son’s needs.

She said: “I’ve reached the end of my tether. He knows something is going on now, his behaviour has started to change a lot.

“I’m on the phone constantly trying to get something for him and he hears his name constantly coming up.

“He said to me ‘are you sad because of me, mummy?’ I had to tell him ‘I’m not sad because of you, I’m sad because we can’t get you into school’.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases but we can confirm we are in regular contact with this family and working towards resolving this issue.

“We are committed to ensuring every child in the county has the support they need to meet their educational potential, and they receive all the necessary support and resources to meet any special educational needs or disabilities.

“There is a higher percentage of children with EHCPs attending special schools in north east Essex compared to other parts of the county.

"The total number of special school places in north east Essex has continued steadily to increase too.”

Gary Smith, headteacher at Market Field school, said a recent expansion to the school had taken its capacity up to 250. 

“But at the moment we have 329 pupils, so nearly 80 over our capacity for a school which is meant to have small groups, individual focus. 

“We are very much trying our best. 

“While it might be good to have a few more classrooms at Market Field, it’s the infrastructure itself which wouldn’t support the growth. 

“The car park wouldn’t be big enough, the kitchen wouldn’t be big enough to provide meals, the hall wouldn’t be big enough, the playground wouldn’t be big enough.”

Reacting to Leeanne’s story, Mr Smith said: “It’s heartbreaking. 

“This is these people’s lives, their families, their hopes and their dreams and they are entitled to them. 

“They shouldn’t be left out just because there is no room for them.”