Parents devastated after Eastbourne college cuts daughter’s special needs support in ‘error’

Martine and her dad Gerry Croxson at their home in Polegate (Photo by Jon Rigby)
Martine and her dad Gerry Croxson at their home in Polegate (Photo by Jon Rigby)

A parent says he was left ‘destroyed’ after college support for his severely autistic daughter was withdrawn ‘in error’.

Eighteen-year-old Martine Croxson, who has Asperger’s, had received county council funding for a teaching assistant to escort her between classes and support her while learning.

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But her father Gerry said they learned last Thursday (January 3) this service at East Sussex College had been removed. However, since contacting this newspaper the college now says this was in error and the service has been restored.

Mr Croxson, of Polegate, said, “I was absolutely destroyed. To do this to her overnight is cruelty beyond belief.

“I understand they need to find funding somewhere, but they can’t take it away from a special needs child. It’s like taking a wheelchair away from somebody who needs one. It’s just wrong.”

He added, ““We have been fighting for our child since she was tiny, we’re not about to stop now. She’s very, very vulnerable.”

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Responding to the situation, Rebecca Conroy, principal of East Sussex College Eastbourne, said, “Last year we reviewed the support we provide young people with an Education, Health & Care Plan. We wrote to parents/carers to explain our determination to promote independence and provide students with strategies to prepare them for the world of work and further education.

“On Martine’s first day back at college after the Christmas break we discovered we had made an error in the support provided for her. It was a genuine error on our part, and we have apologised to Martine and her parents.

“This mistake was corrected immediately and her support was back in place for her second scheduled day at college, Monday January 7, and will now be in place for her full programme this year.”

The principal added that Martine now also has access to extra support.

She said, “We continue to be committed to ensuring every young person who studies with us receives the support they require and reiterate our apology to Martine and her parents for this genuine error.”