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NO SPECIAL SCHOOLING FOR BOY FOR WHOM BULLYING LED TO NERVOUS BREAKDOWN

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A top judge has ruled that an Oxford teenager so traumatised by bullying that he has learning difficulties can't be...
A top judge has ruled that an Oxford teenager so traumatised by bullying that he has learning difficulties can't be sent to a special school.

Mr justice Goldring refused to overturn a decision made by the special educational needs appeal tribunal late last year.

The tribunal ruled that the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, should not be given a 'statement of special educational needs' and was able to remain in mainstream education.

But, despite describing the boy's plight as 'sad and difficult, Mr justice Goldring said the courts should be slow to 'castigate' decisions made by bodies who had professional experience.

He added that it was 'inconceivable' the tribunal hadn't considered all the evidence in the case, and concluded that their decision was 'plainly rational'.

The judge told the court that the boy had suffered 'extensive' bullying while at primary and senior school, and had had a nervous breakdown.

Although he is of 'high to average' intelligence, he has emotional and behavioural problems brought on by the bullying.

His mother, who brought the case on his behalf through barrister Kerry Barker, wants him to be sent to a special school where she says one-on-one teaching and pastoral care will prevent him from being picked on.

But early last year Oxfordshire Local Education Authority refused to statement the boy, finding that he could be educated at his current school as long as they took measures to crack down on bullying.

The mother appealed that decision when, instead of becoming less frequent, the bullying intensified and culminated in her being threatened by 10 of her son's fellow schoolmates as she tried to protect him.

Mr justice Goldring added that the boy was also hospitalised after an assault.

But he concluded on Wednesday that the tribunal, in a hearing lasting two days, had considered all the evidence available in the case with 'some care'.

The judge added that a 'substantial' part of the evidence was referred to in a reasoned judgement given by the tribunal.

He also said that the the mother's application to seek judicial review of the tribunal's decision should be rejected on grounds of delay.

Highlighting a 'catalogue of errors' made by her solicitors, he said court documents had been submitted nearly a month late.

'The errors cannot amount to an exceptional explanation in the final analysis as time limits are there to be followed,' said Mr justice Goldring, dismissing the mother's challenge.

STRAND NEWS SERVICE

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