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School put my epileptic son at risk, says mum

School criticised after four-year-old Oakley was allowed to play without his protective soft helmet - but head says staff followed health plan

Oakley's injured face

The mother of a boy who suffers severe epileptic seizures says she has lost faith in his school after staff decided he didn’t need to wear a protective soft helmet in the playground.

Lorraine Brocklehurst has criticised teachers at Christ Church CE Academy in Huddersfield who, she claims, ignored her request for son Oakley to wear the helmet and then failed to inform her.

She only found out when her sister arrived to pick up the four-year-old and saw that he had a red mark on his head from a fall minutes earlier.

Now she is demanding an explanation as to why her child, who suffers from a range of health problems including tuberous sclerosis, hyper mobility and epilepsy, was put at risk.

Oakley in his helmet with brother Rohan

 

Oakley, known as ‘Bear’, has hyper mobility in his knees and shoulders leading to balance issues that cause him to fall frequently. His ankles are also weak – a condition his mother describes as “sleepy feet”.

She said: “Bear struggles to run and 90% of the time he does fall over because his feet are floppy. He goes through boots every two or three weeks.

“He was measured for his soft helmet by a child physiotherapist. It’s for his hyper mobility, not his epilepsy, but we told the school he should wear it outdoors.”

Bear suffers regular fits and the most serious happen when he bumps his head. Consequently Lorraine, 40, and husband Barrie, 43, ensure that he wears the helmet whenever he is outside.

Oakley (left) with his mother Lorraine Brocklehurst and brother Rohan

 

She added: “In the classroom he can take it off as long as the teacher keeps an eye on him. If he is having a tired day he can fall over. We said when he is outside he must wear the helmet. His class teacher agreed.

“Apparently they decided that he didn’t need his helmet on for going out to play. He was extremely tired which meant he was extremely clumsy and he hit his head on a raised wooden sandpit.

“Bear was out of it. The poor child looked mashed. He wasn’t knocked out. There was no blood but he complained he had a headache. The teaching staff placed a wet paper towel over the bump.

“But it’s not enough. They should have been keeping a closer eye on him. That night Barrie had to sit with him all night in case he had a fit. We thought it was going to be an ambulance job.

Oakley in his helmet

 

“I was in tears when I found out. The school said it was following instructions from a physiotherapist not to use Bear’s helmet rather than listen to the parents who know him best.

“The 10-minute meeting we had with the school was a waste of time. They wouldn’t listen to us and were adamant that they were going to go with the report. Then they gave us a two-week period to have Bear reassessed. That has now run out.

“They didn’t admit they had made an error. We’ve lost all faith in the school. If he goes out without his helmet the same thing will happen again and he is going to have a seizure.”

Headteacher Lisa Walton-Thorpe commented: “The school has acted on the basis of an Epilepsy Health Care Plan from medical professionals (dated 30th August) stating that the pupil is not having any seizures and a medical report from Children’s Physiotherapy confirming that the pupil does not need to wear the helmet while playing out.

“Given the concerns of the parents the school has agreed that their child can wear the protective helmet pending a further review of the medical assessments.”

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