Published: 17/05/2017 17:00 - Updated: 16/05/2017 14:46

Inverness mum: 'I want my son to have a proper education'

Written byBy Emma Crichton

Barbara Irvine with son Joshua Gourlay during a protest outside Highland Council headquarters about the lack of school support for children with additional support needs.
Barbara Irvine with son Joshua Gourlay during a protest outside Highland Council headquarters about the lack of school support for children with additional support needs.

AN Inverness mum is considering taking legal action against Highland Council, claiming the local authority is discriminating against her autistic son.

Daniel Gourlay (9) only attends school for a few hours a week as teachers can’t cope with his autism but his mother, Barbara Irvine, has been fighting with education bosses to get him back to school full time. And the mum of three could soon have a legal battle on her hands as she has been advised by solicitors that it could be discrimination to keep her son out of school.

Last week she travelled to Wick to hear from education law consultant Iain Nisbet, who thinks the situation is a case of disability discrimination. The event in the Pulteney Centre gave parents a chance to learn more about their children’s rights within additional support for learning law.

Ms Irvine said: “I went all the way to Wick to listen to the talk on education law because there wasn’t one in Inverness.

“I spoke to Ian and he said it definitely sounds like disability discrimination against Daniel.

“I’m waiting to hear back from him and then we will take it from there.”

Ideally Ms Irvine (46) wants to see a specialist school for autistic children, saying there are young people in the Highlands being kept out of school like Daniel.

This was hammered home at a protest outside the council’s Glenurquhart Road headquarters, when parents and carers said their children have been let down by the local authority.

A Highland Council spokeswoman said safety of the child, classmates and staff is the top priority when they display “challenging behaviour”.

“Any pupil who presents with significant issues in relation to accessing education, for whatever reason, will be known to ASN staff within the council who will always work alongside parents to try and overcome any barriers to education and to increase a child’s access to the curriculum and to the social aspects offered by a school.”

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