A COLCHESTER mum has accused a school of "overselling" its special education provision leaving it "overwhelmed". 

Laura Wingar, from Colchester, chose East Bergholt High School for her son Freddie after it was advertised that the school had a high level of SEN support.

Ms Wingar said while looking around with Freddie, who has ADHD and autism, she was told the school provided a sensory room, inclusion, room, therapy dog sessions and a forest school for neurodiverse pupils.

But Ms Wingar says she now feels the school, which was praised for its SEN provision by Ofsted, has taken on too many children with extra needs. 

She said: “What happened, is a lot of people have looked at the school meaning now they are overwhelmed with SEN children.

“I’ve had members of staff saying in year 7 alone we have more neurodiverse children than in the whole school, so it has been oversold”.

Ms Wingar said Freddie, who is in year 7 and turned 12 this week, has not returned after half-term as she says he is “not safe” and claims he was assaulted.

Gazette: Safety - Laura Wingar said her son was seriously assaulted twice in his first term of secondary schoolSafety - Laura Wingar said her son was seriously assaulted twice in his first term of secondary school (Image: Submitted)

A spokesman for East Bergholt High School said: “As a school, we pride ourselves on creating an inclusive and supportive environment, with a range of provisions and support – including managing medical conditions in line with our policy – for all students, including those with SEND.

“We comply with the school admissions code and our own admission policy and have similar numbers of students with SEND attending the school to that of National figures."

The spokesman added: “While it would be inappropriate to comment on individual cases, the school takes all allegations of bullying incredibly seriously.

"We investigate any concerns that are reported to us and apply the appropriate intervention or sanctions as required. We do not condone any behaviour or actions that are anything but respectful and inclusive and are liaising with the family to resolve the matter.”

Freddie was diagnosed with autism last year and ADHD about five years before, with his needs being known to the school. 

Ms Wingar also applied for an educational health care plan with Essex County Council.

There is a legal 20-week turnaround for ECHP with Laura saying that in 20 weeks, Freddie has not even had an assessment yet.

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which takes responsibility of children living in Colchester, said: “The current timescales for assessment completions fall short of the 20 weeks we strive for.

“Improving them is something we take very seriously, as we understand the impact it can have on the children and young people being assessed, as well as their schools and families.

The spokesman also said that the “recruitment and retention of educational psychologists” is a major issue for local authorities across the country at outlined in the SEND improvement plan. 

They added: “We have also invested in the expansion of our SEND teams to help address the unprecedented rise we have seen in assessment requests since the end of the global pandemic.”