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'NEGLIGENT EDUCATION' MAN SUES

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A man who accused teachers of negligence after he left school 'functionally illiterate' and socially isolated has h...
A man who accused teachers of negligence after he left school 'functionally illiterate' and socially isolated has had his compensation hopes dashed by a High Court judge.

Andrew Marr's time at school was a sad history of low attainment and repeated exclusion for bad behaviour which had its route in his learning problems, argued his counsel, Martin Westgate.

Now aged 23, Mr Marr, of Vauxhall Street, south east London, has the reading age of a seven-year-old, despite being of average intelligence, and blamed teaching staff at three schools for failing to deal with his special educational needs.

However, judge Mr Justice Ouseley, yesterday cleared teaching staff at all three schools of negligence and dismissed his substantial damages claim against Lambeth LBC.

The judge told the court: 'It is, of course, troubling that a child, who had parents who cared about his education and was not mentally disturbed, can leave the state education system functionally illiterate'.

However, he said Mr Marr had 'a number of disadvantages' right from the start of his education and, over the years, 'patterns of inattention, misbehaviour and lateness became the normal way for Andrew to behave'.

'The problems of a low level of literacy and the impact of that for acessing the general academic curriculum became more intractible.

'It would have required a higher degree of perception, effort and resource for Andrew, who was by no means the only one with such literacy problems, to have been brought back to the level which he could reach.

'The interventions needed to assist were increasingly resource intensive and he was increasingly unwilling to assist himself.

'There was no negligence in his not receiving the sort of personalised assistance which might have helped to some degree'.

The judge said he was 'wholly unpersuaded', even had teachers given him all the help Mr Marr's lawyers said they should have done, that it would 'probably have led to a significant improvement in his educational attainment'.

Mr Westgate earlier told the judge Mr Marr's employment and education prospects had been 'very severely compromised' by his failed education and his dream of forging a career in the computer industry had become a 'hopeless ambition'.

His life had, added the barrister, been blighted by a 'sense of exclusion as a result of his inability to read or write'.

Teachers, he claimed, had 'tended to concentrate' on his 'substantial and escalating' behavioural problems, without recognising that they were probably due to the 'considerable frustration' he felt because of his educational difficulties.

He added there was still dispute over the precise 'diagnostic label' which could be attached to Mr Marr's learning problems and whether they could be described as 'dyslexia'.

Mr Marr had claimed substantial damages from Lambeth LBC and the governors of Archbishop Tenison's School and Lilian Baylis School, both in Kennington, south London.

The case centred on MrMarr's education from the age of eight - when he started at the Vauxhall Primary School. He went on to the at Archbishop Tenison's School, which he attended between 1993 and November 1994, when he was temporarily excluded.

He was transferred to the Lilian Baylis School in December 1994, but was excluded from there in January 1996. Between then and June 1997, he received no formal schooling and he eventually saw out his time to school leaving age at a pupil referral unit.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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