A mum has blasted education chiefs after a school put her dyslexic 13-year-old daughter who suffers from learning difficulties – in ISOLATION for two years.
Leah Bartley’s condition is now so severe that she can’t write her own NAME and she has a lower literacy level than a six-year-old.
But instead of spotting something was wrong when she began to fall behind classmates, teachers at Kings Norton Girls’ School in Birmingham put Leah in isolation.
Her frustrated mum Sharon Bartley-Powell, 51, was eventually forced to fork out £450 of her own money to get Leah diagnosed with dyslexia after TWO years begging the school for help.
A leading learning disability expert said it was too late to help Leah reach her full academic potential but recommended private Shapwick School in Somerset.
Sharon was delighted when the specialist dyslexic school offered Leah a place after she went there for a three-day trial this summer.
But the mum-of-three was left devastated when Birmingham City Council refused to pay the £22,737 annual fees and instead placed Leah at a local special school.
Leah has now been attending Queensbury School in Erdington for three weeks but mum Sharon says it is aimed at children with behavioural difficulties and BLIND students.
She claims Leah’s dyslexia has got worse since she started at the school and police are often called because of fighting among the pupils.
She fumed: “I am furious with the way Leah has been treated.
“She has been made to feel like a problematic child when she should have been receiving extra support and attention to help with her difficulties.
“I’m not a teacher but I could tell something wasn’t right and I’ve been asking her schools to assess Leah for years, as I could tell she was falling further behind.
“But all they were doing was putting her in isolation every single day. They said she was not listening and not doing the work.
“In the end I paid £450 to have Leah diagnosed for dyslexia and they gave us a booklet explaining everything that was wrong.
“But the school didn’t put an action plan in place so I went to Maple Hayes Dyslexia School in Lichfield.
“They assessed her but said she was too far behind to even go there but suggested a specialist dyslexic school in Somerset.
“I paid more money for Leah to go there for three days and they offered her a place and she was
delighted, she loved it there.
“But the council won’t pay the fees and instead suggested she go to a school in Erdington.
“Leah needs very specific help now but she has been sent to a school for the visually impaired.
“Her needs are being swept under the carpet but I will fight to the death to make sure Leah gets the quality of teaching she needs and is entitled to.”
Sharon, who lives with Leah and her brother Nahum, 16, in Kings Norton, Birmingham, hoped Maple Hayes Dyslexia School would be able to offer her a place.
But Dr Neville Brown, a chartered psychologist who runs the school in Lichfield, Staffs., decided her progress had fallen so far behind that their specialist teaching methods wouldn’t be able to help her catch up.
Dr Brown said Leah’s case was the worst he had come across in his 35 years of practice.
He said: “This is the worst case of failure by the school system to identify a child’s special need I have ever come across.
“All the warning signs were there and her mother spotted them, but the school refused to dig any deeper.
“It beggars belief that they could be so negligent to the needs of a pupil.
“It is highly disturbing that teachers chose to discipline her rather than examining what was causing her bad behaviour.
“It is a classic ‘red flag’, as bright children who are dyslexic often act out and start to show their frustration at falling behind their classmates but not understanding why they can’t grasp what their peers can.”
Leah finally received a formal statement of Special Education Needs in September this year and was placed at Queensbury School in Erdington.
But mum Sharon, who had to quit her job as a carer when Leah started having problems two years ago, said the special school is not right for her daughter.
She added: “I have to get up at 5am to make sure we get the bus at 7am to get her to school. It is the other side of Birmingham.
“I am not letting her go on her own when you hear about the people who get the buses earlier in the morning.
“The school is not right for her. It’s for children with behaviour problems so doesn’t specialise in dyslexia.
“There’s always trouble and fights there and the police were called last week.
“I’m very disappointed in the council. Considering that they have let Leah down the could at least have paid for the other school and given her a chance of getting qualifications.
“She is not in the right place for her and is not happy there. I’m angry at the system, the whole thing.”
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware that Mrs Bartley-Powell has expressed a preference for her daughter to attend a school in Somerset and has asked Birmingham City Council to funds that place.
“However, following an assessment and consultation with Queensbury special school it has been agreed that Queensbury has the services and resources to care for Leah.
“Clearly we have to protect the public purse and it would not be right to fund a place elsewhere when we have the right school here in Birmingham.”
Gillian Fox, headteacher of Kings Norton Girls School, said: “There were no problems passed to us from primary school and we treated her like any other pupil based on the assessment of her individual needs.
“She was referred to our pupil support services who offered to do their own assessment to test for dyslexia – but her mother decided to do this herself.
“It was found she had profound dyslexia which was too advanced for the levels of support we offer and she was taken out of the school.
“She was not taught solely in isolation and she was in mainstream schooling – we do not like pupils to be in isolation for any extended period of time.”