Chorley mum gave up £30k a year job and sign up to benefits to care for son with complex needs
A finance manager was forced to quit her £30k a year job and sign up to benefits to find alternative education for her troubled son.
Christine Ratchford, 49, who lives in Chorley, says because of her 10-year-old son’s complex needs he was put into isolation at his school in Lostock Hall in April.
Jake Hill has Global Development Delay, attachment disorder and there is a possibility that he also has autism.
His needs mean that Jake can become aggressive and according to Christine within the course of one month Moor Hey School registered that Jake had to be physically restrained 33 times.
She says that she feels let down by a system which meant it took about seven months to find another school for him to go to.
In the meantime, she had to give up her job and source of income.
“If he gets overwhelmed he becomes aggressive and he has to be physically restrained,” said Christine.
“Between February and April he had a bad time.
“In 34 days there were 37 serious incidents logged. On top of that he had to be physically restrained 33 times.
“I just feel like I have been seriously let down by the whole education system.
“He’s 10 and he still can’t read and write.
“Back in April this year he had a review of his educational health care plan.
“The school told the coordinator that they were unable to meet his specialist needs.
“It’s been a roller coaster.
“I have had to leave my job. He was out of school for a week.
“How has it managed to get to this level?
“I have nothing against the school. They quite clearly could not meet his needs.
“They asked the local education authority to help back in April. It took Lancashire County Council (LCC) all the way to August to update his plan.
“Because of his needs I can’t get any care for him.
“I don’t have family. My parents have died and his dad’s family are not around.
“For the last couple of months he’s been on reduced hours. Since April he’s been in complete isolation in a separate building with two adults.
“I’ve worked for 30 years and I’ve never, ever been in this position. I’ve never not worked.
“I walked away from a £30,000 a year job to be paid Universal Credit and because I have a mortgage you don’t get payments if you have a mortgage.
“If I lived in rented accommodation they would quite happily pay someone else’s mortgage.
“I have paid into a system and I can’t get anything out. I have had to extend my mortgage 17 years so that its affordable with the money I get on Universal Credit.
“I find it totally frustrating.
“I gave up my job in May because I was getting continual phone calls from the school - ‘you need to come and pick him up’.
“I got to a point where I was going to have a break down I had no other choice but to leave.
“From April LCC has put the school in a situation that the school should never have been in.
“LCC should have reacted quicker. It took them from April to August to re do his educational health care plan.
“It’s been absolutely horrendous.
“I just want people to stand up and take accountability. It should never, ever have developed into this.
“The system doesn’t work.”
Since she gave up her role as a financial manager Christine has qualified with a Diploma in Special Education Needs and has started to retrain as a teaching assistant in order to try and match her schedule to fit with her son’s needs.
Jake is now going to a specialist private school, Roselyn House School in Clayton-le-Woods.
“Because of Jake’s condition he can’t mix with his peers,” said Christine. “He’s been banned from clubs because of his behaviour
“I want to be able to employ a personal assistant which would enable me to go to work.”
Lancashire County Council declined to comment on Jake’s case but said supporting all children and young people was their “paramount concern”.
Sarah Callaghan, Lancashire County Council’s director of education and skills, said: “It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases.
“However, our paramount concern is always to provide the most appropriate education and support to all of our children and young people.”
When the Post approached Moor Hey School for comment the head teacher referred back to the statement from LCC.