A BOY who was 'crippled' by anxiety and missed four crucial years of school while his mum fought for help has received thousands of pounds in compensation.

Oxfordshire County Council has paid £12,200 to autistic Charlie Jeacock, from Launton near Bicester, after a watchdog found failures in how it dealt with his attendance.

Mental health struggles meant the teenager, now 17, missed his GCSEs after skipping school due to social anxiety between January 2015 and January 2019.

His mum Sharon Jeacock said she felt like he was 'out of sight, out of mind', despite the council having a statutory duty to provide alternative education.

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The 47-year-old said: "Just because he was a very quiet and polite child, who didn't cause any bother, I think he got forgotten about. It's so wrong.

"I think he went off their radar - it was like we'd dropped off the face of the earth.

"It was so frustrating for us, trying desperately to get help. It was like banging your head against a brick wall."

Charlie was diagnosed with autism at the age of six, but attended mainstream primary and secondary schools.

He has sensory issues, hypermobility and is a selective mute.

Mrs Jeacock and her husband Ken, who are also parents to 20-year-old Joseph, described Charlie as a 'bright' boy with the potential to achieve.

His issues with attendance started at primary school, and by secondary school he was missing up to 80 per cent of classes.

Mrs Jeacock said his social anxiety has now spiralled to such an extent that he rarely leaves his bedroom.

She described it as 'crippling', adding: "It's heartbreaking to witness. Absolutely devastating."

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The council was made aware of Charlie's poor attendance in January 2015, when his school asked for support.

The authority started providing regular support worker visits to Charlie's home, but his attendance still declined.

He was signed off of school in October 2016 and the council said it would refer him to Oxfordshire Hospital School, but nothing came of this.

He eventually moved schools in June 2017, starting part-time.

Despite the council increasing his support visits to a daily basis, he only attended school once between September and December 2017.

It was not until November 2018 that the council agreed Charlie's new school was not suitable, and that he should be home-tutored until another option could be found.

Mrs Jeacock made a formal complaint to the council and it agreed with some of her concerns, including that home tuition should have been provided sooner.

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However, it did not offer any remedy, so she went to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

She contacted the Oxford Mail yesterday after the watchdog's report, dated November, was published.

The mum wants other families to be aware that the council has a duty to provide alternative education, if a child misses 15 days of school or more due to poor health.

The ombudsman report concluded: "The council failed to provide alternative education between January 2015 and January 2019.

"Although it did make efforts to support [Charlie] to reduce his anxiety and return to school during this time, it did not appropriately review the success of these interventions.

"It also failed in its duty to provide alternative education."

It told the council to apologise to the family and pay them £11,200, to be used for Charlie's education, plus £1,000 for the 'distress' caused.

Although Mrs Jeacock recognised that special educational needs funding is under pressure, she said it was children like her son who were suffering.

She said: "It's been an absolute nightmare.

"It was a relief, after so long of not getting anywhere, that they've finally been held accountable for their terrible failings.

"It's affected us as a whole family."

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Mrs Jeacock worked as a care assistant for 18 years, but gave up her job during the ordeal to support Charlie.

Among 11 specific failures detailed by the ombudsman was the council's delay in giving him an education, health and care plan (EHCP).

This is a document outlining the special needs a child has and what should be done to support them.

A council report in 2015 recommended that Charlie should be assessed for an EHCP, but it was not until June 2017 that one was produced.

His mum said the compensation was little comfort, adding: "It's not about the money, it's about the principle.

"It's not just about the academic side, it's about his mental health and integrating with society."

Charlie was given a place in July at Bardwell special school in Bicester, and Mrs Jeacock said staff there had been 'amazing'.

The school is seeking funding to provide him one-to-one support, starting at home, in hope that he will gradually feel confident enough to attend.

A spokesperson for the council said: "We accept and agree that the concerns raised in the report were not acceptable.

"We are already using these to inform our practice, policies and procedures moving forward.

"The council is very much committed to supporting the needs of families and children in this area."