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Mother’s anger over no school place for Yasmin Master
Family take fight to tribunal after daughter ‘completely regresses’
Published: September 29, 2011
by TOM FOOT
A GIRL with severe autism has “completely regressed” after she was left without a school place and lost two years of education, her family claim.
Yasmin Master, 12, rarely speaks and is diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD).
The rare condition makes her hostile towards all forms of authority and means she must be taught by qualified experts and taken to a special school with an escort every day.
It is an expensive business: according to Town Hall estimates, putting Yasmin through secondary school could cost £500,000.
Camden Council has a legal obligation to ensure all its children with special education needs go to school. Yasmin’s mother Zubeda has lodged an official complaint with the Town Hall, claiming a “total failure” to discharge that duty.
In her complaint, on September 9, Ms Master added: “The local authority has failed to actively pursue any interim arrangements or find an appropriate school for Yasmin.”
Ms Master is preparing for a special education needs tribunal hearing after council chiefs turned down an offer of a place from one of the country’s leading specialist autistic schools.
Instead, the Town Hall wants Yasmin to be escorted in a private ambulance every day to a school more than an hour away in Hounslow. The family is concerned that the journey will aggravate Yasmin’s volatile and challenging behaviour.
In September 2009, Yasmin was sent to a centre in Kentish Town after three years at Holy Trinity primary school in Swiss Cottage.
Ms Master said she became “extremely concerned for Yasmin’s emotional wellbeing” after her stay at the centre dragged on.
She said Yasmin “completely regressed” and her selective mutism – an anxiety disorder – increased.
The Master family, who live in Bolton Road, West Hampstead, have become 24-hour carers since withdrawing her from the centre in May.
While their daughter will not speak to most people, she has often talked to her family and friends. She likes to visit Kilburn Grange Adventure Playground, go swimming and help cook meals with her mother at home.
The family say they do not want any help from social services, just a school place for their daughter.
They are angry that an offer of a permanent place at TreeHouse School, in the Pears National Centre for Autism Education, in Muswell Hill, was rejected in March this year.
The council maintained that estimated savings of about £140,000 over four years if she goes to Hounslow were “considered of significance”. It had to balance the schoolgirl’s needs with a “finite budget”.
A Town Hall spokesman said the council could not comment fully until after the tribunal in January.
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