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First Published Monday, 23 February 2009

Freddie & School Staff

Freddie Buckner with school staff Mark Porch, back left, Tendayi Marumani, his mum Suzanne and Terry Mckenzie

By Chine Mbubaegbu
February 20, 2009

A mum won her battle to get her autistic son into the school she built for him – but now faces the challenge of filling the other places.

Suzanne Buckner, a businesswoman from Three Mile Cross, spent more than a year and around £600,000 building a school for her eight-year-old son Freddie, who suffers from learning difficulties including autism and dyslexia.

Freddie is a ‘statemented’ child, which means the council has to provide funding for a school which it feels meets his special educational needs.

She had hoped her son would be able to attend Freddies Reading, but came up against stiff challenges from Wokingham Borough Council which had chosen to only fund Freddie through Westfield School in High Wycombe.

The local authority had said this school was better suited to Freddie than the one his mum created in South Street, Central Reading.

But following months of angst, and £15,000 legal fees, Mrs Buckner has finally got the go-ahead to get council funding to teach her son at Freddies Reading, following a meeting with the local authority on January 22.

Mrs Buckner said: “After much pushing from every direction, finally Wokingham Borough Council said they will let Freddie go to the school.”

Freddie has been unofficially taught at the school over the past few months and Mrs Buckner said she is already starting to see improvements in his learning.

She said: “This is a child that just couldn’t go to school because he was consistently excluded. Since he has been taught at Freddies over the past four months, we haven’t had a single incident of him misbehaving.”

But Mrs Buckner now faces a new challenge of getting other children with similar special educational needs to fill the empty seats.

She said: “There are many other children out there who need a school like Freddies and their parents don’t know how to navigate the system.

“There is a sense of relief that Freddie can now go there – but at what cost?

“Right now I need to get Freddies in Reading up and running and help other children and parents in similar situations.”

Andrea Jenkins, a spokeswoman for Wokingham Borough Council, said it would not comment on individual cases.

Source:  http://www.getreading.co.uk/news/education/s/2045548_mum_wins_fight_for_school_place_for_freddie

Related Article

Reading Evening Post  “Education For All Freddies”:


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