Expelled schoolboy wins legal aid to sue council

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The Independent Online
A hyperactive seven-year-old boy has been given legal aid to bring a personal-injury claim against his local authority after he was thrown out of school for disruptive behaviour.

Andrew Eaton suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had thrown frequent tantrums. His reports said he hit and kicked other children, bit a teacher and threw apparatus around the classroom. His school, Wellacre Infants in Flixton, Greater Manchester, excluded him in January after he refused to sign a behaviour contract. His parents said his first teacher could cope with him but after he moved up a class his problems escalated.

He now receives three hours of home tuition a week and his parents say he could suffer emotional and developmental damage from the experience. His parents were offered a place for him at another school but they refused because it had a quiet, orderly atmosphere and they did not think Andrew could cope with it.

Andrew's father, Karl Eaton, said he supported his son's decision not to sign the contract, which asked him to try to keep the rules and said he might have to work in the corridor if he broke them. Andrew said he could not sit still because of his condition and did not see why he should show respect to the teachers because he felt victimised by them.

"He said why should he show respect to adults when they didn't respect him. We weren't going to force a child of that age to sign something he did not want to," Mr Eaton said. Andrew had always been hyperactive. He and the boy's mother had 14 nights of uninterrupted sleep in his first three years of life, he added.

The family's solicitor, Mr Louis Wolfson, said the case could set a precedent. They had been granted legal aid to gather evidence and seek counsel's opinion and this could be extended if they wanted to continue with his case. "He is a very active child and since he was excluded he has become very depressive. He isn't the same child as he was. We feel this may have long-term psychological effects on the child."

Tony Lee, director of education for Trafford, where the Eastons live, said their appeal for a place at a different school for Andrew was being heard on Thursday and he had been advised not to comment till then.

Thirty children were kept away from Manton Junior School in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, in protest at individual lessons being given to Matthew Wilson, 10. Teachers had threatened to strike if he was not removed from their lessons because they said he was disruptive but the school governors refused to exclude him.