TODAY the Standard urges our readers to support a disabled boy’s quest to change the way children like him are treated by the education system.

Jonathan Bryan, 10, from Stanton St Quintin, started a petition to change the system that he says let him down, and now has almost 150,000 signatures – including Queen guitarist Brian May.

Jonathan was born with severe cerebral palsy, kidney failure and supplemental oxygen dependency and was misdiagnosed as having profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD), despite nobody being able to fully communicate with him.

As a result, he missed out on the education provided to non-disabled children.

But three years ago his mother Chantal began teaching him basic reading, writing and maths, and Jonathan soon made rapid progress.

He was able to communicate with his family and the outside world using a spelling board controlled with eye movement, and discovered a love for writing poetry.

After his story appeared in the Standard in June, it was picked up by national newspapers and he appeared on the BBC’s The One Show, inspiring people nationwide to sign his petition.

Continued on page 6 (Continued from front page) “I am overwhelmed by the response to my petition and my prayer is that it will start to make a difference for children like me in education,” said Jonathan.

“Learning to spell, using only my eyes, has totally transformed my life, but it is only possible because my mother taught me to read and write.

“What brings me incredible sorrow is watching my non-verbal friends in wheelchairs miss out on the fullness of life because no-one believes that they are worth teaching literacy to.

“In my experience, non-verbal children like me can’t be described as having PMLD when they have never been taught.

“At the age of four, I entered the special education system yoked with the label PMLD despite no-one having taught me; or having found a way for me to communicate.

“I believe children like me should be reclassified as having profound and multiple ‘access’ to learning difficulties.

“Special needs teachers must believe in the potential of their pupils, take the time to find out how the different children will access literacy, and then teach them.

“Disabled children with communication issues are not being taught in special schools. They are being babysat.”

The petition now has more than 147,000 signatures, which is enough under UK law for it to be debated in Parliament.

Among those to sign the petition is legendary guitarist of Queen, Brian May. He tweeted about signing the petition, saying: “I could not resist this appeal. I signed. Will you?”

To keep up the pressure on the government to make changes to the law, Jonathan has also written to the Department for Education, requesting a meeting to discuss the teaching of literacy in special schools.

In the letter he said: “If literacy was taught to children in special schools more children would be unlocked like me.

“My dream is that every non-verbal child is taught to read and write.

“Underestimating special needs children is robbing them of their right to education and communication.

“Until this is seen as the abuse it is, nothing will change. Reforming the special needs curriculum must be a priority.”

The Standard are encouraging residents to back Jonathan’s quest to give disabled children a fair chance at a good education.

We would like to hear from anyone who has children that have had similar experiences to Jonathan and we are encouraging people to write to their local MP to raise the issue.

To contact the Standard with your story email In response to Jonathan’s campaign, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “All pupils, regardless of their circumstances, should have access to a broad and balanced curriculum, which includes language and literacy.

“We are clear that we expect teachers to set high expectations for their pupils, to plan lessons so that they are accessible and ensure that there are no barriers to their achievement.

“We have made fundamental changes to the way the special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) support system works for families by replacing (SEN) statements with integrated and personalised educational health and care plans.

“This means children and young people are supported, where they need it, until they turn 25, helping them to achieve their full potential, both in education and later life.

“Ensuring teachers are trained to have an understanding of the needs of pupils with SEND is a key part of our drive to give all children access to the education they deserve.

“We have confirmed that SEND training will form part of the new core content for ITT. Further detail on this will be published in due course.”

To sign Jonathan’s petition, visit To keep up to date with Jonathan’s journey visit his blog at and support the campaign by tweeting #TeachUsToo