Bristol autistic man's college choice backed by tribunal ruling

By Caroline Le Marechal
BBC News, Bristol

  • Published
Zak and NuraImage source, Nura Aabe
Image caption,
Nura Aabe said her son was "over the moon" at the news

A severely autistic man has been told he can go to the college of his choice after a council conceded its initial placement could not meet his needs.

Nura Aabe took the case to a tribunal after her son Zak Mohamed, 21, was given a place at City of Bristol College despite it being unsuitable.

She took the action after a BBC film of Zak shopping was used to assess him.

Bristol City Council said it "fully accepted" the findings of the tribunal.

Zak, who lives with his family in Bristol, never took up his placement but, following the outcome of the tribunal, will now take up a place at Ruskin Mill in Stroud in the next two weeks.

Mrs Aabe said: "Today means we will have a normal life again."

Media caption,

The Inside Out film showed Zak Mohamed learning to shop independently

She said the family took part in a BBC Inside Out documentary in February because she wanted to raise awareness of how people like Zak could learn to be more independent.

When Zak had to move into post-19 education, she wanted him to go to Ruskin Mill school because it was "more suitable for his complex needs".

The council told her City of Bristol College could not meet her son's needs, but the authority had to "consult with local provision".

Two months later Zak was allocated a place at City of Bristol College.

Mother's 'strength'

Following the special educational needs and disability tribunal, Mrs Aabe said: "Where is the logic in our system? The system disables young people and their families instead of enabling them.

"If only the local authority knew how challenging it is to lead a so-called normal life.

"It is the system that you fight more than to raise a young person with complex needs. Something has to change."

Her solicitor Beverley Watkins said: "I'm delighted that Zak will be back in appropriate education shortly.

"He's a delightful young man, due to the strength of his mother who has fought for him since he was very young."

A council spokesman said: "We fully accept the findings of this tribunal and will continue to do our very best to support Zak, and his family, so he can have the best possible future."

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