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Bexley home schooling scheme for children at risk of bullying

PUBLISHED: 11:37 26 August 2011 | UPDATED: 13:16 26 August 2011

Annabel Leaver with her children Charlie and Tia

Annabel Leaver with her children Charlie and Tia

Archant

»A teacher is setting up a home schooling charity for children at risk of being bullied - including those with autism and gender identity disorder.

Mother-of-two Annabel Leaver, 31, from Sidcup, is trying to raise £145,000 so that she can set up a home schooling network to teach 24 children in four locations throughout Bexley.

Complex

Miss Leaver, who currently home schools her 11-year-old son Charlie who has autism, claims that mainstream schools do not have the right level of support to educate some children with complex needs.

She said: “I am all for inclusion but to dump a child with autism in the playground of a mainstream school and hope they will integrate is not enough.

“Children with autism are quite naive, don’t understand sarcasm and tend to have what some people see as peculiar interests for their age, say at 11 it could be trains or with my son, it is paper aeroplanes. This makes them prone to being bullied.

“People with autism have an inability to be flexible. If they are bullied they don’t understand it. If a neurotypical child gets bullied then tend to talk about it and move on from the event. But people with autism can’t and they just replay the event. They cannot understand it and cannot move on from it. And they end up with school phobia.

“Those with autism tend to have an unwritten social code that you leave each other alone and only communicate when you want to. They wouldn’t jump up on someone in the playground and surprise them.”

The project which is currently looking for tutors and sponsors, will also take on children with anxiety disorders and other children who have been bullied.

Reduced

Miss Leaver claims the number of children who have been receiving a Statement of Special Education Needs which ensures get extra help including being sent to a special school, has reduced over the past decade, meaning more children with special educational needs are being sent to mainstream schools.

A spokesman for Bexley Council confirmed that statements in the borough had reduced over the past years, adding: “Non-mainstream school provision is made for those small numbers of children in Bexley whose needs cannot be met within the mainstream.”

n For more information or to get involved call Miss Leaver on 07547494767 or visit www.safeschoolbexley.co.uk

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