Parents left frustrated after son is refused nursery place

Gideon Lowe, who suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, with his mother Rae.
Picture by Jane Coltman
Gideon Lowe, who suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome, with his mother Rae. Picture by Jane Coltman

A mum and dad have called for answers as to why council officials are refusing to accept their disabled son into a special school.

Gideon Rowe suffers from Prader-Willi syndrome – the same condition as Katie Price’s son Harvey – which leaves him with behavioural and learning problems.

The three-year-old also has an uncontrollable appetite and never feels full.

His parents Rae and Peter applied for Gideon, who also has specific learning difficulties and struggles with communication, to attend Woodlawn School in Whitley Bay as they feared he would not be able to cope in a mainstream school.

But they were left stunned after North Tyneside Council refused their application for Gideon to join the nursery in September, and then rejected any assessment of his condition.

Rae, of Whitley Bay, said: “We asked for an assessment for him because we know he is going to have special needs at school. They said no.

“They have said he will have to go to a mainstream school, but we’re not happy with that as we think it will be dangerous for him.

“My frustration is they are saying he doesn’t need an assessment. It goes against what all the professionals are saying.

“The council keeps saying he will cope with mainstream, I disagree. I want more than him just coping, I want him to reach his full potential.”

Rae said that teachers of Gideon’s brothers, Henry, eight, and Zachary, five, have also agreed a mainstream school would not be suitable and they would look to move him to a special school straight away.

Rae added: “A lot of my frustration is we don’t feel we’ve been given a specific reason for why this decision has been made.

“Woodlawn has two other children there with the same condition. I would like the council to explain what it is that makes Gideon not suitable for that school when other children are suitable.”

Rae and Peter have now launched an appeal against the decision, but the lengthy process means they fear they will miss the September start date – unless the council backs down.

“Next September is when he should be starting Reception,” said Rae. “The older he gets, the bigger the gap between him and his peers.

“As with any parent, all you want is the best for your child. It’s exceptionally frustrating and exhausting to have to fight for that when the people who are supposed to support you are blocking you. We just want the best for Gideon.”

A spokesman for North Tyneside Council said: “We would not usually comment on individual cases.

“However, as a council, we are committed to ensuring that all children receive the very best education in North Tyneside.

“All cases like this are carefully considered by a panel, made up of a range of skilled professionals, who consider all options.

“We always start by trying to ensure children are as close to mainstream education as possible because we know this inclusion can make a big difference to their development.

“We support the child, and their family, throughout their development to suit their changing needs.

“This can include additional and special provision at our mainstream schools as well as at our successful special schools.

“Like all of our children, a further assessment will be undertaken during Gideon’s time at nursery to determine which school best meets his future needs.”