Catholic school welcomes student barred from mainstream classroom

A seven-year old expelled from school last year has just completed his second week in a mainstream classroom.

His transition to Saint Mary’s Catholic School in Putaruru has gone smoothly, says his mother Tracey Lithgow.

It’s over a year since Lithgow’s son was expelled from Tokoroa’s Tainui Full Primary School for extensive behavioural issues.

For almost all that time – since last December when his homeschooling tutor left – he was left without any formal education.

His family unsuccessfully spent months calling on the Ministry of Education for action.

It was only after news media company Stuff reported that the Ministry of Education was failing to get the boy back into the mainstream classroom that a place for her son was found.

Lithgow says it was emotional seeing her son back at school after so long.

He has a congenital heart defect which has led to him having anxiety issues, she explained.

“On the first day he went back it was almost as if my baby had started school and I got a wee bit teary,” she says.

“He wasn’t hanging off me harassing me or anything he just said ‘bye Mum, have a good day’. He was ready to go back and it’s bloody awesome.”

“The teacher he has is amazing. She’s got him where he needs to be,” Lithgow says.

“I did say to her that she has got to be his boss, not the other way around because the minute you let that happen you’ve lost control. She’s listened to every word I have said, she’s such a good teacher.”

The Ministry of Education has provided a support worker four hours a day to help ensure the boy’s transition back to school continues to be successful.

“He’s doing really well and comes home and does his reading and spelling but on Thursday night he came home and just crashed out. He’d had a hard week,” Lithgow says.

The boy’s grandmother is grateful to the Ministry for finally sorting the situation, but is urging Ministry staff to learn from it.

“There was no need for this if they had done their job in the first place – but in the end we got what we wanted, so we are happy,” she says.

Lithgow says she would encourage parents going through similar situations to never give up.

“Just keep fighting the Ministry and if you get nowhere, go to your local paper,” she said.

Ministry of Education deputy secretary Katrina Casey says the Ministry has been working with the family.

“The learning support package to help his transition … back into mainstream schooling is available and has been since he enrolled,” she says.


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News category: New Zealand.

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