Council under fire over school change

A Sleaford parent feels she has been “failed” by the county’s education system after being told at short notice that her daughter would be starting a new school, but without transport arrangements in place for the first two weeks.

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Mum Claire Wright says it has been one disaster after another with Lincolnshire County Council’s education department failing to address her nine-year-old daughter Stacey’s needs throughout her school life.

Stacey has high functioning autism and despite being recommended to attend a special school she was sent to Kirkby La Thorpe Primary School where Claire insists the support has been “fantastic”.

She said: “Both myself and the school were not told until the last day of summer term she would not be going back as the council had found her a place at Willoughby Special School in Bourne. This was not our preferred choice of Ambergate School in Grantham.”

Claire said Ambergate has offered her a place from next September.

She said communication from the county council has been poor and other parents have had similar experiences.

They had not heard from Stacey’s care worker throughout the holidays and only got a call two days into this term. Meanwhile Claire discovered taxi transport had not been arranged to Stacey’s new school for the start of term, despite getting a confirmation letter in the holidays.

Stacey has finally had confirmation that transport is secured, but Claire said: “It has got to the stage where Stacey’s excitement about going to a new school has worn off, she is confused watching her brothers going off and wondering why she is not going too.

“It would be nice for the council to make things a lot simpler for moving from mainstream to special schools.”

Martin Smith, assistant director for education, said: “We’re sorry that the family feel they have been let down, and we will continue to work with them and support them through this transition.

“There is currently rising demand for special school places and it is not always possible to meet parents’ preferences as a result. However, we’re investing £86m in upgrading our special schools over the next few years, which will create hundreds of additional spaces and help each school cater for all needs, which should improve things.”