Dyslexic 'genius' gets cash after all

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The Independent Online
A GIFTED teenager who lost a high court battle for special funding to take up a place at Cambridge University will get a grant from his local authority after all.

Alexander Faludy, 15, a genius who suffers from severe dyslexia will get around pounds 11,000 a year from, Portsmouth City Council for state of the art technology to help him through his studies. Council education officers accused the boy's parents of wasting public money on the court case as the funds had always been available.

Alexander's parents, Andrew and Tanya - both English teachers - took the case to court where the judge decided last Tuesday that the council had no duty to assess him for special educational needs. At the time, the family said they feared Alexander, who plans to go to Peterhouse College in October to study theology and history of art, may have to give up the university place which he was offered, despite being able to write only two illegible words a minute.

The extra funding was needed for special equipment to help him read books and write essays and provide one-to-one attention. Alexander also suffers from dyspraxia, clumsy child syndrome.

A Portsmouth education officer said yesterday that council money had always been available through an alternative scheme. The Student Awards system includes a disability student award element allowing pounds 10,000-a- year for a personal helper, pounds 1,350-a-year for books and photocopying and a one-off payment of pounds 3,950 for specialist equipment.

Andrew Seber said the council had advised Alexander's parents to apply for this money in February. Mr Seber said: "It is a mystery to us why the family were advised to take legal action on a point which was not in doubt and when they were eligible for other funding anyway.

"Eventually, shortly before the hearing, the family did apply for a grant. The independent assessment was arranged by the parents for the day immediately following the legal hearing. Help will be offered, including the use of state-of-the-art technology to help Alexander.

"That could all have been done much earlier if the family had followed the grant application sooner. As it is, a great deal of public money has been spent both by the LEA and through Alexander's support from the legal aid fund."

The family could not be contacted last night for comment.

Alexander, whose IQ is said to be "off the normal scale" dictated an analysis of Othello at eight and at nine became the youngest person to pass an English GCSE.

The court decision on Tuesday provoked outcry from dyslexia groups who called on the Government to set educational targets for dyslexic children rather than leaving them to languish in lower streams unable to fulfil their potential.

Alexander's parents moved him to Milton Abbey, a fee-paying boys' boarding school in Dorset, three years ago, because he was being bullied at state school.

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