EDUCATION secretary Michael Gove has promised Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle a ministerial meeting to discuss the case of an autistic boy who was told to leave his school.
Mr Birtwistle raised the case of nine-year-old Jack Entwistle in the House of Commons after the child was asked to leave St James Lanehead CE Primary because staff ‘could not cope’ with his disabilities.
His family have accused Lancashire County Council of breaching discrimination law and are now schooling him at home because they believe he will ‘fester away’ at the special school he was told to attend.
Jack’s parents, Alan and Karen Entwistle, have appealed the outcome of a special educational needs and disability tribunal, in which a judge backed the county council’s decision to send Jack to Pendle View Primary School, a special school in Colne recently given an award for its work with autism sufferers.
Mr Birtwistle, a Liberal Democrat, said he had been contacted by two other Burnley families with similar complaints, and spoke out in Parliament on Monday.
He said: “My constituent Jack Entwistle is a lively nine-year-old who suffers from autism. He is being denied education suitable for his needs by Lancashire County Council, and unfortunately he is not alone.
“Will my Right Honourable Friend meet me to try to end the discrimination Jack is suffering from the education department at Lancashire County Council?”
Mr Gove replied: “I will ensure a minister meets my honourable friend, whom I thank for his dogged and determined work on behalf of his constituents.
“We have both had our frustrations with Lancashire County Council over the years, but any vulnerable child in Burnley has a highly effective champion in my honourable friend.”
Jack’s dad, Alan Entwistle, said he was pleased the subject had been brought up in Parliament.
Mr Entwistle, of Marsden Road, Burnley, said: “It is good progress for us that we are getting our situation across at that level.
“I’m hoping to meet with Gordon next week and we will discuss then how to take things forward.”
Sally Riley, from Lancashire County Council, said the authority had to abide by the tribunal’s ruling.