Mother forced to quit job to homeschool son after council fails to provide suitable school place

Stock photo of a classroom
A mother says Leicestershire County Council have failed to provide a suitable school place for her son, who has autism Credit: PA

A mother says she’s been forced to give up her job in order to homeschool her young son, after Leicestershire County Council failed to provide a suitable school place for him.

Harvey Leak, who’s 11, has been diagnosed with autism and requires additional teacher support, as well as frequent breaks, a visual timetable, and a distraction-free personalised workstation.

His parents had applied to two specialist schools they felt were best-suited to his needs. However, as he is above average for reading and writing, the council assigned him a place at Lutterworth High School, which is a mainstream school - and the school itself has said it cannot meet Harvey’s needs.

The acknowledgement was made in a document sent to the council, and seen by reporter at the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

His mum, Corinne Toseland, from Fleckney, said she feels “completely helpless”, and had been forced to give up her job as a dental nurse to care for her son.

"Last week I had to break it to my little boy that he is going to be homeschooled," she said.

"He loves school, he just wants to have a friend.

"The summer holidays are the worst time for him, so for him to have an extended summer holiday and not be at school… I'm completely helpless to watch a little boy break down and his anxiety go through the roof and know there is absolutely nothing you can do to help it and, with everything you are trying to do, there is nobody there to support you."

She said she and Harvey’s father, with whom she shares custody, had tried repeatedly to contact his caseworker, but had only occasionally heard back.

"I'm having to give up the job that I love so I can go home and be with my little boy because he's just got no where to go at the minute,” she added.

"I've not been given any direction on what to do, how to homeschool, if he'll get a tutor. I'm not a teacher, I'm a dental nurse and we've just been left.

"Harvey is very clever, he's cleverer than me. I looked into getting a private tutor, but they're £20 an hour. With me not working, I can't afford that.

"I don't know how I'm going to survive financially. And with the gas and electricity going up as well, we're going to be at home more, it's just a nightmare.

"People are making decisions over other people's livelihoods and family and not realising the implications and then disregarding any accountability or responsibility for it by just not answering us."

She said the family is appealing the council’s assigned school place, with a tribunal date set for December.

A spokesperson for Leicestershire County Council said they could not comment on individual cases, adding: "We are working hard to ensure all children have a school place that suits their needs."