Harpenden mother blames bureaucracy for choice between children’s school and therapy

Oscar and Madison. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt

Oscar and Madison. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt - Credit: Archant

A frustrated mother has been forced to jump through bureaucratic hoops to avoid choosing between her daughter’s therapy and her son’s education.

Oscar Tutt. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt

Oscar Tutt. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt - Credit: Archant

Harpenden mum-of-three Nicky Tutt has been battling Herts county council (HCC) for more funding to sufficiently cater to all her children’s needs.

Nicky’s son, 12-year-old Oscar Tutt, was diagnosed with high-functioning autism, PTSD, and anxiety in 2014 and since then has struggled to find a school that is right for his needs.

Oscar was out of school for five months before Nicky discovered an institution in north Cambridge, Gretton School, which specialises in high-functioning autism.

Nicky’s eight-year-old daughter Madison also has autism and needs therapy for auditory hallucinations and self-harming.

Nicky and Oscar, with Oscar's sister Indy. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt

Nicky and Oscar, with Oscar's sister Indy. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt - Credit: Archant


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However, only two trips to Oscar’s school in Cambridge are funded by HCC - once there and once back. Not for Nicky to drop Oscar off, go home, and return to pick him up later - which would count as four trips.

Last winter she was forced to wait in the car park for hours in sub-zero temperatures while he finished classes.

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This left Nicky unable to take Madison to her therapy appointments in Hertfordshire.

“It is hard because it is a choice between which child gets what they need - an education or therapy. I don’t think any parents should have to make these decisions,” Nicky said.

Oscar and Madison. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt

Oscar and Madison. Picture: Submitted by Nicky Tutt - Credit: Archant

After more than 18 months of lobbying, HCC has now agreed to fund the second trip until Christmas and backdate payments.

However after Christmas Oscar must take a taxi, which Nicky fears will trigger his anxiety.

She said the situation was “ridiculous”: “It was so frustrating that if I wasn’t a bright, articulate person, I wouldn’t have got this - one other parent at the same school had to go to the ombudsman but because I know the right words I didn’t. I don’t think it should be this hard, with one rule for one and another for another.”

A spokesperson from HCC said: “Our transport planning team organise travel to and from school every day for approximately 3,000 children with special education needs and disabilities. Mrs Tutt recently requested additional support with her son’s transport. To ensure that the most appropriate home to school transport is provided, we will be carrying out a review of his transport arrangements at Christmas.”

She said that Oscar’s transport will not be withdrawn.

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