£214,000 bill for one teenager’s education

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Education chiefs are spending £214,000 of taxpayers’ cash to educate 15-year-old special needs pupil Lewis Jones for a year after his mum took them to a tribunal.

Although that is more than six times what it costs to send a child to Eton, she says he needs it after being neglected at schools in Herts.

Sarah-Jane, who is also a mother to Lauren, 18, said: “Lewis could not read, put numbers into a mobile phone or use a calculator.

“He was very violent and had mental breakdowns and would be physically out of control.

“What do you do with a child like that? You do not want sympathy or understanding – you just want it to be dealt with. He would not survive until 18 if he was not where he is now.”

Lewis has been getting one-to-one tuition at 3 Dimensions boarding school in Somerset and coming home to be with his mum at weekends since May 2012.

He suffers from a string of disorders including dyslexia and autism, and Sarah-Jane says this is one of only four schools in the country that would agree to educate him.

The 35-year-old, of Spring Lane, Warners End, said: “It has been hell looking after him for all these years.

“He broke anything and everything and even took windows out. He took his bedroom flooring up, because one day he decided he did not like it.”

She said he has tried to kill himself many times and police helicopters have been called to search for him after he skipped school and ran away from home.

She said he was shifted between schools and none of his teachers had the expertise to deal with him.

But she said: “He’s lucky enough now to have a good group of friends around him, who accept him. He’s a lot calmer now.

“He’s just been at home for four weeks and I have not got one damaged thing in my house.”

Herts County Council spokesman Jo Brown said the tribunal was called to resolve a dispute about its provision of education for special needs pupils.

She said: “No criminal charges were brought relating to neglect nor have we been sued on these grounds. We have not been asked to pay any compensation.”

John Barfoot, deputy cabinet member for the council’s children’s services, said the council aims to provide ‘good education’ to all of the county’s children – including those with special needs.

He said: “There is no one model that fits every child and no one price that can be quoted for providing the necessary services to support their education.”