Public schools and special-needs children

Opponents of education vouchers and privatization often make the claim that only public schools can adequately meet the unique requirements of special-needs students. The father of a 10-year old girl in Oxfordshire Country in England begs to differ, and is seeking legal action against the public school system to force it to fund a school that will provide a suitable education for his daughter.

A FATHER who claims his ?super bright? daughter was failed by state schools has launched a pioneering legal action to force the council to fund her private education.

Dr Tim Southern, from Sonning Common, is seeking a judicial review of Oxfordshire County Council?s refusal to help fund 14-year-old Caroline?s place at Peterborough High School.

Dr Southern says local schools were unable to fulfill her ?exceptional ability?, leaving him with no option but to find a suitable private school.

His legal challenge, launched on Friday at the High Court in London, is that Caroline?s academic aptitude ? said to put her in the ?exceptionally high range? ? qualifies her as having a ?special educational need?.

In June this year the council declined to fund the place, saying her needs can still be met in local state schools.

The family?s counsel, Nicholas Bowen, told Deputy Judge Andrew Nicol QC that an educational psychologist had assessed Caroline at ten, pinpointing a ?special talent? for science and maths, a verbal IQ of 147, and a reading age of 17.

Despite her gifts, Caroline had become bored at school, the psychologist reported, having social problems with other children and usually preferring not to go out to play.

She felt she had no friends and no common interests with her peers, and needed to be stretched academically, the court heard.

Good luck Dr. Southern. The state school system that failed meeting the special needs of your daughter should finance an educational environment where she will be challenged to her fullest ability. After all, they already took your money. It only makes sense that you get it back.

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In a blatent alienation of

In a blatent alienation of 90% of my schoolmates, "werd".

"After all, they already

"After all, they already took your money. It only makes sense that you get it back."

I doubt it makes sense to the highwayman.

Good luck to Dr Southern. He

Good luck to Dr Southern. He can find support for his cause in my 1996 book, THE g FACTOR.

Chris Brand, Edinburgh, author of THE g FACTOR (Wiley DePublisher, 1996).
(The 2000 edition is available FREE at