Mother from Bury St Edmunds wins fight for education of dyslexic daughter

Suffolk County Council headquarters.

Suffolk County Council headquarters. - Credit: Archant

A west Suffolk mother-of-two has won her third tribunal against Suffolk County Council which she says has failed her family for generations.

Sam Cook, from Bury St Edmunds, has been battling with the council in a bid to get her daughter Bethany Cook, aged 10, into a specialist school.

Bethany suffers from severe dyslexia and has been granted a place at a specialist independent boarding school.

Ms Cook, 45, a dyslexia sufferer herself, said: “I didn’t get appropriate help until I was almost 16 when my mum went to tribunal and won.

“I can’t believe that children with dyslexia are still having to fight for their education two decades later. For severely dyslexic children, mainstream education is a place to be bullied and left behind.”

Suffolk County Council said Bethany’s needs could be adequately met by attending a local learning centre twice per week and a mainstream school the rest of the week.

Ms Cook added: “Over the course of two years, her learning progressed the equivalent of two months. She was slipping further and further behind. I knew where she needed to be, in a specialist school with a team of qualified teachers.”

Most Read

Ms Cook fought decision to deny funding for a place at Shapwick School in Somerset in court, initially losing but then winning at appeal. Her older son Connor already attended after a similar struggle.

She added: “We have had to fight the council every step of the way to an education. So far, my batting efforts against the council is three for three; twice for my son and once for my daughter. But why I have to fight at all is beyond me.”

A spokesman for the council said: “SCC does not comment on individual cases, but in response we would advise that wherever possible children with special educational needs who are in receipt of a Statement of Special Educational needs or an Education, Health and Care Plan should be supported to achieve their full potential in their local mainstream school.

“There are occasions where needs cannot be met locally and alternative arrangements need to be made.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter