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Family struggles to win statement

(Photograph) - They may be going out of fashion with local authorities, but Angela Christie believes a statement of special educational needs is the only hope for her daughter, Hannah, 13, writes William Stewart.

She has elements of Asperger's syndrome and struggles to cope in busy environments. She often refuses to enter a class. Despite the efforts of her parents and Howard of Effingham school at Leatherhead, Surrey, Hannah had a 17 per cent attendance record last year.

Mrs Christie is convinced Hannah will only succeed in her GCSEs with specialist help and the smaller class sizes not available in a mainstream school. But that means getting a statement. The Christies were told recently that Hannah's needs were not severe or complex enough to meet Surrey council's criteria.

There is no proof this refusal is a result of the authority's policy of delegating special needs money to schools. But its plan to shift funds to the School Action Plus programme does not bode well for her appeal.

Surrey's website states: "There will be a reduction in funding attached to statements and it is intended that the number of children supported in this way will decrease."

Mrs Christie says that leaves Hannah in limbo, unable to function in a mainstream school but without the funding for more specialist help.

"I feel very angry," she said. "Hannah has done nothing wrong and is capable of getting qualifications to get a meaningful job to support herself. If we carry on like this I don't think that is going to be possible."

Photograph: Neil Turner

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