Disabled boy rejected by Mossbourne

A prestigious Hackney secondary school faces a legal challenge for refusing to admit an academically gifted 11-year-old with cerebral palsy.

The clever boy, who already has an A* maths GCSE, has been declined a place at Mossbourne Community Academy, Downs Park Road, Lower Clapton, because his admission “would be incompatible with the efficient education of other pupils at the academy,” according to a letter received by the boy’s parents.

His mother Sarah Creighton said: “We were gobsmacked. He’s able across the academic spectrum, he has won the pan-Hackney debating competition two years in a row. Whatever criteria you want to put on it he overachieves.”

She explained that his cerebral palsy is minor; he uses a laptop for his work rather than writing by hand but walks unaided.

The family, who live 900 metres from the school, thought there would be “no problem” with the application.

They appealed to the Special Education Needs Tribunal but the case was struck out. They are currently awaiting a decision from the Upper Tribunal to determine whether they can appeal again.

Ms Creighton added: “No matter how hard my son works he’s judged as disabled rather than his abilities being taken into account.”

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Elaine Maxwell, a partner at Maxwell Gillott solicitors representing Ms Creighton, said: “It is difficult to see why this particular disabled boy who has worked hard to do his best could be anything other than an asset to the school. We suspect that this is a general approach being adopted by Mossbourne.”

She said the school has refused to admit other children with statements of SEN and applied through the Learning Trust to have the appeals struck out on the basis the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the academy.

In total, 56 children with statement of SEN applied to join Mossboure in September. Seven were offered a place. Overall the school received over 1,600 applications for 200 places.

A spokesman for the Learning Trust said: “As a matter of policy we do not comment on cases of this nature. Depending on the terms of the funding agreement between an Academy and the Secretary of State, the Academy may not have to admit a child even if the school is named in the child’s statement.”

Mossbourne did not wish to comment.