Pupil With Asperger’s Who Was Rejected By Mainstream School Wins Place At Cambridge University
Alex Goodenough, 17, was refused a place at his local mainstream school, Hertfordshire and Essex High School and Science College, because he has Asperger’s Syndrome. So the talented teenager taught himself at home from textbooks. Now, he’s been offered a place at Cambridge University to study Engineering.
A special educational needs and disability tribunal ordered the school to apologise to Alex for treating him less favourably “for a reason related to his disability.”
The schoolboy said he used the school’s refusal as motivation and achieved As in three maths subjects and some physics modules. Now he is at another school, studying for the practical physics exam, which he could not take while learning from home and is a condition of his offer from Trinity college, Cambridge.
He said: “Maybe my story at least shows people that even if institutions put this bar up and won’t help you and give you an environment where you can be comfortable, at least with enough work and luck you can still do well.”
Alex completed his first year of A-levels a year early at another school where his mother, now an educational consultant, was teaching at the time. But after she left the school she contacted H&E in June 2007 to enrol Alex there because the specialist science college was walking distance from their home in Bishop’s Stortford.
Over several months she had contact with five different school officials.
The school initially rejected the application because his “regular attendance” could not be gauranteed as a result of his DisAbility.
The tribunal panel accepted that there had been some initial misunderstandings in Alex’s case, but it found that the school refused to send Alex an application form and wrongly told his mother that the sixth form was full three times. It said that this “may have been intended to discourage Ms Goodenough.” and that Alex’s education was “probably adversely affected.”
Alex said he was denied social interaction through studying at home.
“If I am at school I have got people around me, if I am not allowed to attend I don’t have that connection,” he said.
The school, closed for Easter, was unavailable for comment, but has written a letter of apology to Alex.
Well, that’ll show them, then! Alex Goodenough has proved that he really is Good Enough- good enough for the second-best university in England, no less. If that’s not proof of what I’ve always known- that DisAbled people can be extremely intelligent, and that, given a chance, their inclusion into mainstream education can have amazing results- then I really don’t know what is.
Alex Goodenough is truly DisAbled, and I wish him all the best for the rest of his education and for his life. He’s an inspiration to anyone with any DisAbility.
This post is part of the Inclusion Rules! Debate at Same Difference.