A Cardiff mother is calling for changes to be made to the further education (FE) system in Wales for young people with disabilities.
Carmel Boston, from Canton, is campaigning for there to be a more transparent and faster system after her daughter Olivia Newing 16, who suffers from cerebral palsy did not receive a timely decision regarding the funding for her further education.
In January 2016, Ms Boston submitted a request to Welsh Government for her daughter to secure a residential placement at Bridgend College.
The 24-hour five days a week care was also the recommendation from an independent educational psychologist and Olivia’s treating consultant paediatrician.
However, Welsh Government put forward a recommendation that Olivia attended a mainstream course in Cardiff. It was later discovered that there were no places available on the course Olivia wanted to study and no alternative option for study was provided by the Welsh Government. Ms Boston instructed Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, a leading public and administrative lawyer, to help with their case.
Michael Imperato has acted for individuals and campaign groups in a number of high profile judicial review cases against national and local government.
Despite giving Welsh Government a deadline for a decision regarding funding by July 2016, a decision had still not been made by September 2016. This resulted in Olivia missing out on two weeks of the new term.
The Welsh Government has recently informed Ms Boston that Olivia’s place at Bridgend College will be fully funded.
Ms Boston is now campaigning for more to be done to improve the further education (FE) system in Wales for young people with disabilities in a bid to make it more transparent and to ensure decisions are made in a timely manner to avoid adversely affecting a young person’s life.
Ms Boston said: “I am really happy that Olivia has now been granted a space at Bridgend College as this is what we have campaigned for since January 2016. I’m really disappointed and I feel let down by the system that it has taken over nine months for the Welsh Government to make a decision regarding Olivia’s further education.
“It was upsetting for Olivia that she wasn’t able to start the new term at the same time as her friends and will now have to work hard to catch up on the work she missed, through no fault of her own.
“I’m very grateful to Michael Imperato of Watkins & Gunn Solicitors who has been instrumental in helping us achieve the result we wanted.”
Michael Imperato, partner at Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, said: “Olivia’s case perfectly highlights the need for a more transparent and user-friendly system that adheres to timescales. Over the past nine months, both Ms Boston and I have been continuing chasing for a decision and it’s unfair that Olivia has been left in this situation of uncertainty regarding her future.
“The uncertainty caused both Ms Boston and Olivia much anxiety as they did not know what would happen. Ms Boston has even had to give up job recently to care for Olivia full time and to help fight for a decision to be made for Olivia’s further education.
“There are so many other cases like Olivia’s and the Welsh Government needs to be held accountable and realise that more needs to be done to help support those with disabilities who want to progress further education.”
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Michael Imperato is a specialist public lawyer dealing with Education Law. For further information please contact us on 02921 154313.