Parents of York autistic twins face dilemma after only one given special school place
PARENTS of autistic twins in York said they feel they are part of a "horrible experiment" as only one of their sons has been given a place at a special school.
Peter and Rhiannon Hale, who live in Acomb, said the decision is "hard to stomach" after their son Jasper was offered a place at Hob Moor Oaks School, which supports children with special education needs, while his twin brother Reuben has been given a place at St Paul's Primary - a mainstream school in the city.
Both boys are non-verbal and have Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) detailing "significant" difficulties.
Peter and Rhiannon, who is a a former deputy head, said a recent discussion with City of York Council on reversing the decision had failed - as councillors said that Hob Moor Oaks School is "over-subscribed."
Peter, 40, who is a former special needs teacher, said: "We cannot understand the logic. They are identical twins with identical levels of needs.
"Our boys will be put on completely different trajectories. Jasper and Reuben are very close. They have lovely laughs together.
"It feels like a horrible experiment."
The twins were diagnosed autistic in April last year, with legal documents drawn up by City of York Council and the NHS showing both have "significant difficulty" with social interaction and communication.
Pete and Rhiannon, who run a day nursery in the city, put down Hob Moor Oaks School as their first choice for enrolment in September 2023 - as they thought both of their songs would require places at a school with special provision.
The family's second place school declined both of the twins, stating they would be unable to meet their needs.
Pete said: "Our third choice accepted both, but said 'although we've said yes, we do feel that a specialist provision may best suit Reuben's needs'."
City of York Council said the authority will work with the family to find a solution for their sons.
Martin Kelly, corporate director, children's and education at City of York Council, said: "Clearly it would not be appropriate for us to discuss individual cases in public, other than to say that we are continuing to work with the family to find suitable provision.
"The allocation of special school places always takes account of the circumstances of individual children - and where children are in enhanced resource provision or in mainstream provision this is considered by the admissions panel with school places allocated on this basis.
"In common with local authorities nationally, York has seen a significant increase in parental requests for special school places since 2020. We are addressing this increase by implementing capital plans which both increase specialist and enhanced resource provisions - and support appropriate adaptations in mainstream education."
The parents said they are willing to take the case to a tribunal.