A father of a 16-year-old with severe learning disabilities is taking Essex County Council to court for refusing to pay for appropriate provision outside the county.

Colin Dawson is now scheduled to argue in the High Court that Essex County Council should fund a place for his son Finlay at a special school in Kent.

The 49-year-old, from Braintree, has been told Finlay would be welcome at Mount Camphill near Tunbridge Wells which he says provides a level of education that would not be given at  Edith Borthwick, in Braintree – a school  he has been with since 2014 but is not due to leave for another two years.

Since September 2021, Mr Dawson has been trying to urge Essex County Council to pay for that place – but has been so far refused that request.

Essex County Council said it is working with Mr Dawson to agree appropriate  provision for Finlay, adding it is “committed to ensuring that every child in the county has the support they need to meet their educational potential”.

Mr Dawson says the need is even more acute given the degree of his disability.

Finlay cannot form more than a three-word sentence, he cannot form any type of written word, let alone read or write, has no concept of stranger danger, has no road sense and will simply walk out in incoming traffic.

He cannot wash himself properly and is unable to use a knife or fork, despite his father trying to teach those very life skills at home.

In 2014, while on holiday in Portugal, he watched his mother collapse with a brain aneurysm from which she died three weeks later.

Mr Dawson said at the time he made a promise that he would do anything to ensure Finlay receives the best education he could.

Mount Camphill’s timetables consist of speech and language, working on the farm with animals, growing food, pottery, weaving, woodwork, and cookery.

He said: “It pains me to think that Finlay is ready for a school like that now but Essex is quite happy to say that the school he is now is right for two years.

“I am not happy with just making do. I could leave him there for the next two years. But he is not going to get any further.”

He is also angry that Finlay’s education, health and care plan (EHCP) had not been updated or looked at since 2015. He has not been assessed by an Educational Psychologist since 2011.

He said: “My son has attended Mount Camphill School, he absolutely loved the environment, had a two-day overnight assessment and was offered a place for September 2022.

“We have accepted this placement as we know he will thrive and truly get the independence that I promised his mother many years ago, as who knows what life brings you, as I may not be here forever.”

After receiving the letter from Senco in April that refused his application for his son to start in his new school in September 2022, he has launched an appeal which is due to be heard at the High Court on July 15.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said: “While it would not be appropriate to share details of an individual case, we are working with this family to agree appropriate SEND provision for this pupil.

“Essex County Council is committed to ensuring that every child in the county has the support they need to meet their educational potential, and that they receive all the necessary support and resources to meet any special educational needs or disabilities.”