Autistic boy, 7, with IQ of a 15-year-old, ‘is forced to move to a school for children with learning difficulties’ because council refuses to pay for extra help

The mother of an autistic seven-year-old with the academic ability of a child twice his age is fighting cost-cutting plans to move him to a special school. This is from the Daily Mail…

Christian Farrington, who has high-functioning autism and an IQ of 168, taught himself to read at 18-months-old.

Experts have said he has a remarkable photographic memory and the academic ability of a 15 year-old.

But he can struggle with some social situations and has mixed developmental disorders and associated emotional issues.

He has a one-to-one assistant at his primary school who helps him deal with social situations such as loud environments and busy classes.

But the local authority now wants to move him to a special school for children with learning difficulties.

The decision came after his present school applied for more money to pay for a second assistant.

Education chiefs turned down the request and said Christian should stay at his current school.

When the school applied a second time the authority changed their minds and said he had to move.

His mother Gabrielle Pakpourtabrizi, 25, said he is thriving at his present school and the cost-cutting decision will see his progress and rare talents wasted.

She has launched tribunal proceedings against Cambridgeshire County Council.

‘Taking him out of the school he loves and putting him in a special needs school will pull the carpet from underneath him and completely ruin him,’  she said.

‘He will not be intellectually stimulated there.

‘I will be willing to back a change, but only if it is the correct one for my son. There are specialist schools I would be happy for Christian to attend.

‘What he’s achieving at his current primary school is priceless.

‘He has surpassed everyone’s expectations and no child deserves to be taken away from a school that is working for them.’

…Christian is currently at St John’s Community Primary School, in Ely, Cambridgeshire, but the local education authority wants to move him to Gretton School, in Girton.

…A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said: ‘It is agreed that Christian requires specialist provision.

‘The county council has identified an independent special school in the county which can meet his needs, but his parents have not accepted this.

‘They have identified an alternative school, but due to its distance from his home, Christian would have to be a weekly boarder. We feel this is inappropriate for a seven year-old.

‘His parents disagree and have lodged an appeal, which they are entitled to do.

‘However, until the appeal process reaches a conclusion, the county council is responsible for providing Christian with an education.

‘In the meantime, we have offered alternative education, which can be arranged for whenever it becomes detrimental for Christian to continue attending a school which cannot meet his needs.

‘If his parents and the school agree, Christian can continue attending Ely St John’s. We therefore expect him to return there in September.

‘However, all parties understand that this is a short-term arrangement until the outcome of the appeal is known.’

Ely St John’s Community Primary School declined to comment.

More at:  Autistic boy, 7, with IQ of a 15-year-old, ‘is forced to move to a school for children with learning difficulties’ because council refuses to pay for extra help

Your thoughts please on the principles involved here? In a similar situation, what do you think the right course of action should be? Please share in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Local authorities.


  1. FlissHawksworth

    SchoolsImprove Inclusion in practice?! Whose needs are the priority here, council’s or child’s?

  2. JaneIPSEA

    SchoolsImprove MumForAutism
    Mum has a legal right to have her son attend a mainstream school. What has her LA told her? Call IPSEA.

  3. Organic_Jane

    SchoolsImprove Would be interested to know why school applied for 2nd TA. Most statements are for given no. of hrs of 1:1. Seems odd.

  4. joannawhittingt

    SchoolsImprove MumForAutism whilst I agree no parent or child should be forced to change schools, I cannot help but be offended.

  5. joannawhittingt

    SchoolsImprove MumForAutism my autistic son, who has a photographic memory, is very intelligent, is flourishing in a special needs school.

    • MumForAutism

      joannawhittingt SchoolsImprove – my son is also in a special school but what works for one doesn’t work for another.

    • MumForAutism

      joannawhittingt SchoolsImprove – for me the issue that the special schools in my area don’t have a particular knowledge in autism.

      • joannawhittingt

        MumForAutism SchoolsImprove I agree with everything you say it’s the negative rhetoric when discussing special schools that upset me.

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt – I agree; its that rhetoric that starts to affect how parents feel about special schools. I’d actually like to see more..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt .. of them particularly with an emphasis on ASD; unfortunately I keep reading articles about how important it is for..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt .. HFA/aspergers pupils to be in mainstream but I disagree. Regardless of the level of functioning, large mainstream..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt .. schools will never work for some, particularly those with sensory issues or who can’t tolerate other pple around them.

        • joannawhittingt

          MumForAutism absolutely. I have worked in mainstream for 10 years and we have students who are clearly struggling.

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt – these articles also put pressure on parents to place their children in mainstream when its not right.

        • joannawhittingt

          MumForAutism unfortunately they closed down a lot of the special schools in response to parents wanting mainstream setting.

        • joannawhittingt

          MumForAutism now we are seeing more special units attached to schools which seem like a good idea.

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt – it seems to me that people have problems associating high IQ with #SEN; that special schools and mainstream are ..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt ..differentiated according to IQ when actually they should be looking at all the other difficulties that make mainstream..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt – yes it does; I’d like to see that option + a flexible timetable for my aspergers daughter.

        • joannawhittingt

          MumForAutism I think it’s a great idea not just for our children but the children in mainstream can learn a lot from our little people.

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt – absolutely plus it is a way of managing the environment around our children; you know some days my daughter may be able..

        • MumForAutism

          joannawhittingt .. to manage a class in mainstream but other days need the support provided by a unit.

  6. joannawhittingt

    SchoolsImprove MumForAutism the staff there work very hard to stimulate him. We need to stop acting like special schools are for rejects.

  7. LuanCherry

    SchoolsImprove It seems wrong to put him in a special school but why would parents want him to be a boarder? Feel there is more to story.

  8. Alexandarshippo

    SchoolsImprove christoclifford But isn’t Gretton School for high-functioning autism? The boy is high-functioning.

  9. JulieTh23756112

    Agree with some of these posts – I feel there is more to this story.  Why would his parents want him to be a boarder at the age of 7?  Also agree that there is far too much stigma attached to special schools – my 4 year old son with ASD is due to attend a special school in September, yet when I tell some people, they look at me with pity in their eyes.  A school should meet a child’s needs, if it can’t then that’s when the problems begin.  It sounds a bit like this child’s parents are focussing far too much on his academic abilities and not enough on his emotional welfare – how can putting a child in a boarding school at the age of 7 be good for them?

  10. JeniHooper

    SchoolsImprove school named is for children on the autistic spectrum including high functioning autism. ? of inclusion

  11. ZCMRock

    SchoolsImprove the school may be struggling to meet this child’s needs but instead of seeking help they are shifting him on: Outrageous.

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