Why Derbyshire child has been left ‘without a school’

A Derbyshire child with learning disabilities has been left with just five hours’ education a week due to severe delays at Derbyshire County Council.

Twelve-year-old Harvey Jacombs, from Langley Mill, has had his education stalled for two years because of problems obtaining an Education and Health Care Plan for his schooling.

Harvey Jacombs with grandparents Karen Morocco and Phillip Jacombs

Harvey Jacombs with grandparents Karen Morocco and Phillip Jacombs

During the two years it took for the document to be approved, he left junior school and completed a year at Aldercar High School.

However, Harvey’s grandparents and legal guardians, Karen Morocco and Phillip Jacombs, say that the school told them that it cannot provide the necessary support outlined in the EHC – a legally binding document.

As a result, Ms Morocco and Mr Jacombs claim they have been told he cannot attend. Derbyshire County Council say that Harvey still has a school place.

Harvey, who has serious difficulties with reading, writing and maths, is now being homeschooled for just five hours a week via the out-of-school tuition team at the county council.

At a meeting of Derbyshire County Council’s scrutiny committee, Harvey’s grandparents said that, despite ‘putting their lives on hold’to care for Harvey, they cannot cope without the required support. The couple are also the guardians of Harvey’s six-year-old sister.

Labour county councillor Nigel Barker said at the meeting that, despite rising demand and limited resources, children like Harvey cannot be allowed to “fall through the gaps”.

Alex Howlett, the manager of the Disabled Children’s Service at the county council, said: “We have more than 3,300 EHC plans, and we don’t always get it right, but we are working hard with limited resources. We do need more multi-agency working but this has been difficult to organise and resource.”

Ms Morocco said: “Harvey had been put on medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder to enable him to get into schools and be more manageable but that ended up taking his appetite away completely and he has suffered significant weight loss.

“We were told by the local authority that they don’t want to send him to a specialist school.

“He suffers from extreme anxiety as a result of childhood trauma – to the extent that we can’t close his bedroom door or temporarily leave him at the house.

“These children are being failed.”

Mr Jacombs and Ms Morocco took custody of Harvey through the foster care system after he had spent two and a half years living with his mother – under close scrutiny through a protection plan.

If approved, a full EHC plan assessment is supposed to take up to 20 weeks to process, with the council aiming to complete each one within two to three weeks.