Teen with autism slams Oaklands College for delaying course days before it was due to start

Oaklands College's Welwyn Garden City campus. Picture: Nick Gill

Oaklands College's Welwyn Garden City campus. Picture: Nick Gill - Credit: Archant

A teenager with autism has criticised Welwyn Garden City’s Oaklands College after it postponed his course days before it was scheduled to start.

Louis Melton, 16, was set to start a course for people with social, mental, and/or emotional health problems in early September, when the college rang his mum and said it would have to be put off for two weeks as they had not employed a tutor.

The teen said there were three groups in the course - two of which were still attending as planned - but him and nine other students in the third one have been forced to wait.

"The problem with that is that we are autistic and don't like sudden change," he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

"It's made me feel quite down - I have nothing in my life at the moment."

Louis added that he felt if it was a mainstream course the college may have tried harder to find a tutor, adding: "They should have done it in the six-week holiday and not waited until term time."

The delay has meant he has had to be "ferried around" as his parents, both of whom work, scramble to find people to look after him.

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His mother, Nicola, echoed how those with autism struggle without routine, adding it was "ridiculous" that a tutor had not been employed before the course started.

"It impacts us because Louis can't be left on his own, so I have to sort out respite care or someone to come and stay with him because me and my husband work," she said.

The Buntingford resident, who works in a nursery, also questioned why Louis couldn't be put in one of the other two groups while another teacher is found.

Oaklands College principal Zoe Hancock told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: "Oaklands College is aware of a complaint regarding one of the employability skills classes offered at one of our campuses.

"The college took the decision to postpone one of its six employability skill classes for a period of two weeks. This is due to the high number of enrolments for this course which, coupled with a large number of late applications, meant that the college needed to employ an additional specialist teacher.

"We have endeavoured to reassure parents and students affected by the postponement of the course that it will still run and will not impact their learning experience."