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Joy for Bury St Edmunds mum Shelby Patterson as son Theo is moved to special school after three year battle




A Bury St Edmunds mum has finally won a three year battle to secure a special school place for her autistic son.

Shelby Patterson, 24, started fighting to have her eldest son Theo, who was diagnosed with autism more than three years ago, moved to a special school after Suffolk County Council, which is responsible for education, said he was not eligible.

But good news came last month, when Shelby learned that Theo, who currently attends St Christopher’s CEVC Primary School, in Red Lodge, will start at Priory School, in Bury –her first choice of school for the youngster – in September.

Shelby Patterson's son Theo has been told by Suffolk County Council that he doesn't require a specialist school placement despite being diagnosed with autism. She is now planning to go to tribunal to get him the education he needs. Shelby and Theo and her other son Rory and partner Jack Field. Picture by Mark Westley. (35815919)
Shelby Patterson's son Theo has been told by Suffolk County Council that he doesn't require a specialist school placement despite being diagnosed with autism. She is now planning to go to tribunal to get him the education he needs. Shelby and Theo and her other son Rory and partner Jack Field. Picture by Mark Westley. (35815919)

“When I visited Priory School last year I just knew that that was the place which would give Theo the education he needs and deserves,” said Shelby, who is also mum for four-year-old Rory.

“They have amazing facilities there and I would feel so much more comfortable knowing that he is being looked after and given lessons which are appropriate to him.

“It’ll be so nice for him to be with people with the same conditions as him. He’ll have access to specialised teaching that he should be getting and it’ll be from specially trained staff.”

Shelby added that, after having to go through a tribunal, it was a ‘huge relief’ to have come to the end of the process.

“I’m so glad it’s all sorted now and we can all move on,” she said.

“It’s been years and the whole time I’ve been so stressed and worried about Theo’s education. He can be at Priory until he’s 18 so I just hope he’s able to stay there for the whole time because I know that it will help him a lot and open a lot more opportunities for him.”

She also urged other parents who are in the same situation to persevere and not give up on their children’s education.

“I hope other parents will keep trying because I know if I’d just stopped, he would never have been given a place,” she said.

“It’s such an important thing and will affect him forever.”


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