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APPEAL COURT RULES OVER PORTSMOUTH'S FUNDING OF CAMBRIDGE PLACE FOR DYSLEXIC STUDENT

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The future of a gifted boy with dyslexia is in doubt after his parents failed in a last ditch bid for the funding t...
The future of a gifted boy with dyslexia is in doubt after his parents failed in a last ditch bid for the funding they need to keep him at elite Peterhouse College, Cambridge, where he is the youngest student this century.

Alexander Faludy, 15, has an IQ of 179 and in September began his theology and history of art studies at Peterhouse as the youngest undergraduate since William Pitt the Younger in 1773.

His brilliance is marred by severe dyslexia and dyspraxia and - although private funding along with some state aid is in place for his first year at Peterhouse - an appeal court ruling yesterday places a question mark over what will happen in later years.

Lord Justice Simon Brown, sitting with Lords Justices Aldous and Clarke, described as 'unarguable' claims that Portsmouth City Council is obliged to cover Alexander's university expenses as a child with special educational needs.

The case put forward by Alexander's parents, Andrew and Tanya, was based on an 'impossible construction' of the 1996 Education Act which specifically gives local authorities no power to fund higher education for children with learning difficulties, the judge ruled.

Alexander, who won a place at Portsmouth Grammar when aged five and passed his first 'A' Level at 11, has been awarded a£458 maintenance grant by the city council and central government has also given him a disabled students grant of over£3,000 a-year to fund computer and other equipment to make his life at Peterhouse easier.

Lord Justice Simon Brown said it was planned that Alexander would attend Peterhouse 24 weeks a year and go back to school at private Milton Abbey School in Dorset for another eight or nine weeks-a-year.

His fees at Milton Abbey have in the past been part-funded by a $US2,000-a-year grant from an American charity.

His family have still had to foot a£5,000-a-year school fees bill for Alexander and his sister and Lord Justice Simon Brown observed: 'The family's financial position is not very good to say the least.'

The judge said the 'central difficulty' faced by the family was Section 1 of the 1996 Act which gives local authorities 'no powers or duties with respect to higher education' when deciding how to provide for a child with special educational needs.

He told the court there was 'no proper basis' for granting Alexander leave to appeal against a high court judge's decision in August to dismiss his judicial review challenge.

The other two judges agreed and Lord Justice Aldous observed: 'I do not believe parliament can have contemplated that a student should attend both Peterhouse and a school.'

Although Alexander's IQ is said to be 'off the normal scale', he can write only a few legible words a minute. He also suffers from Dyspraxia, the so-called 'clumsy child syndrome.'

His parents, who are teachers, realised how bright he was when at the age of three, he was able to recite verbatim tapes of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Peterhouse waived its normal entry requirements after he dictated essays on the rationalist argument for the existence of God and the influence of classicism on the work of the 16th century Italian architect Andrea Palladio.

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