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Last Updated: Friday, 12 September, 2003, 14:11 GMT 15:11 UK
Special needs boy fights school move
Tertius found his ADHD behaviour subsided at Summerhill
A boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been moved from his chosen school - to be sent to one which is five times more expensive.

Tertius Wharton, 11, wanted to remain a pupil at Summerhill Progressive Democratic School in Suffolk, which he says helps his behaviour.

It was costing his family 7,000 each year to send Tertius to Summerhill - they withdrew him from his state-paid, mainstream school last year.

Last month, Kent County Council agreed to pay his fees after a ruling by the secretary of state for education.

Now the council has decided to send him to West Heath special needs school in Sevenoaks, for his secondary education, for which the authority will pay an annual 40,000 residential fee.

The authority insists that Summerhill is not the appropriate school for Tertius and that he is now settling in well at West Heath School, in Sevenoaks - known for being Princess Diana's old school.

ADHD behaviour

Tertius, who is from Wouldham, near Rochester, says his ADHD subsided after moving to Summerhill, where teachers and pupils are given equal rights and are not made to go to lessons.

Children who suffer from ADHD can be inattentive, impulsive or hyperactive, finding it hard to finish tasks, often acting without thinking and can also be restless and fidgety, finding it hard to sit still for long.

Tertius said: "I went to quite a few lessons. You only go to lessons if you want to and I find it much easier. It helps me be a bit more relaxed. If they forced me, I wouldn't want to do it."

His mother, Joy, said: "It seems ludicrous that they won't let Tertius go to the school he wants to go to - that his parents want him to go to."

Chatham and Aylesford MP Jonathan Shaw is backing the family in their fight to keep Tertius at Summerhill.

Long-term issues

He said: "The authority felt that the school wouldn't be able to provide the long-term education that he needed, which is a very important issue, but all the reports - and the one person that's been to the school from the council - have recognised that he has made great progress.

"How they can look into a crystal ball and say he isn't going to make progress, when he evidently has, is beyond me."

Councillor Paul Carter, KCC cabinet member for education, said: "Professional officers have concluded Summerhill would not be the appropriate school.

"This was also subject to a special educational needs tribunal decision, which said Summerhill was not appropriate.

"It may cost more, but we genuinely believe we need to spend this additional resource, to give this child the right education."

The principal of West Heath School, Valerie May, said she was unable to comment on individual cases, but said: "We try to turn a negative experience of school on its head and make it work.

"We take youngsters who have had unfortunate experiences. We get them in classrooms and achieving."

The New School at West Heath opened as a special needs school and a charity in September 1998, when the Beth Marie Centre for traumatised children was relocated from premises in Sevenoaks.

It was a girls' independent school until 1997, which coincidentally went into receivership on the day that the Princess of Wales died.

Help for hyperactive children
01 Apr 03  |  England
Video games help hyperactive children
24 Aug 00  |  Science/Nature


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