Boy, four, denied entry to autistic brother's school

SCHOOL PLACE ANGER: Natacha Simms, pictured with her two autistic sons, Lewis Coughtrey, left, and Oscar Coughtrey, who are being sent to two different Durham primary schools. Picture: TOM BANKS (9597298)

SCHOOL PLACE ANGER: Natacha Simms, pictured with her two autistic sons, Lewis Coughtrey, left, and Oscar Coughtrey, who are being sent to two different Durham primary schools. Picture: TOM BANKS (9597321)

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Durham)

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.

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.”

Comments (7)

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11:19am Sat 23 Aug 14

Northcroft says...

tough, you missed the deadline, you have kids, deal with it, ALL your choices and mistakes, not others
tough, you missed the deadline, you have kids, deal with it, ALL your choices and mistakes, not others Northcroft
  • Score: 19

11:40pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Darkroom Devil says...

If what you say about the form being withheld is true then sue the other school for all extra costs up to school leaving age. That'll ruffle a few feathers. They'll need to prove they sent the form in good time if it was their responsibility that it truly cost you the place.
If what you say about the form being withheld is true then sue the other school for all extra costs up to school leaving age. That'll ruffle a few feathers. They'll need to prove they sent the form in good time if it was their responsibility that it truly cost you the place. Darkroom Devil
  • Score: -1

11:41pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Darkroom Devil says...

*and it.
*and it. Darkroom Devil
  • Score: -4

9:01am Sun 24 Aug 14

Equity1 says...

Don't expect help from this local authority they don't care - unless you move in the right circles you are on your own . Appeals procedure is just going through the motions !Good luck ,I hope you get sorted.
Don't expect help from this local authority they don't care - unless you move in the right circles you are on your own . Appeals procedure is just going through the motions !Good luck ,I hope you get sorted. Equity1
  • Score: 1

6:15am Mon 25 Aug 14

BreadOfHeaven says...

It's a 5 minute drive between both the alternative schools and Pittington, hardly a reason to give up work.,..
It's a 5 minute drive between both the alternative schools and Pittington, hardly a reason to give up work.,.. BreadOfHeaven
  • Score: 2

7:50pm Sat 30 Aug 14

robbiejay says...

Another whinging mother. Give me strength!
Another whinging mother. Give me strength! robbiejay
  • Score: -2

3:54pm Sun 31 Aug 14

s_r_l_88 says...

Wow, some of the comments here are a joke.

I'd love to see some people put in the same position. How is a Mother supposed to be at two different schools at exactly the same time for drop-off and pick-up? It's all well-and-good saying that she should get a Child Minder, but that comes at a cost and at the end of the day, some people just cannot afford it.

The brunt of the blame has to fall on the local authority here who have put this Mother in such a position. Instead of thinking about family and the well-being of the Mother's children they make things difficult. The only solution they seem to be given here is to move the child who is perfectly happy to the other school.

There is a complete right to whine here from the Mother who only wants the best for her children.

To quote posts previously, 'give me strength'.
Wow, some of the comments here are a joke. I'd love to see some people put in the same position. How is a Mother supposed to be at two different schools at exactly the same time for drop-off and pick-up? It's all well-and-good saying that she should get a Child Minder, but that comes at a cost and at the end of the day, some people just cannot afford it. The brunt of the blame has to fall on the local authority here who have put this Mother in such a position. Instead of thinking about family and the well-being of the Mother's children they make things difficult. The only solution they seem to be given here is to move the child who is perfectly happy to the other school. There is a complete right to whine here from the Mother who only wants the best for her children. To quote posts previously, 'give me strength'. s_r_l_88
  • Score: 0

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