A PREGNANT mother-of-two is furious she faces having to send her two young sons, one of whom has autism, to separate schools.

Natacha (CORR) Simms, a sales assistant, says she will have to quit work for the sake of her sons’ education.

Five-year-old Oscar, who has autism, is entering his second year at Pittington Primary School, County Durham, where his mother says he is happy and well cared for.

Loading article content

But Lewis, four, has been denied entry to Pittington for September, instead being offered a place at Sherburn or Cheveley Park.

Ms Simms, who is expecting twins, could move Oscar, but his medics are concerned this would harm the youngster, who struggles with change.

She feels Sherburn school, near the family home, is ill-prepared for autistic children and so faces having to drive Oscar to Pittington and then Lewis, who is being monitored for signs of autism, to Cheveley Park, three miles away.

Lewis would have to be dropped off late and picked up early, potentially damaging his education and exposing Ms Simms to action over his poor attendance.

Ms Simms’ partner lives elsewhere, works full-time and starts work early.

Lewis was refused a place at Pittington because Ms Simms missed the application deadline.

She believes this was because Framwellgate Moor Primary, where Oscar was schooled until January and where his mother says he was bullied, failed to provide the form.

She challenged the decision, but it was upheld at appeal and by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Ms Simms said: “It’s been a lot of stress.

“Since the original decision it’s been a fight all the way and I can’t get anywhere with them.”

Caroline O’Neill, the council’s head of education, said: “Unfortunately, the application for a school place was received after the deadline by which time the class was full.

“Department for Education guidance is clear that there should be no more than 30 pupils in a class at Key Stage 1.

“The matter has been reviewed by the Local Government Ombudsman, who upheld the decision of the local authority and the independent appeal panel.

“If a place becomes available we will, of course, notify the family.”