Disabled mum’s plea for reinstatement of school transport

Amelia and Claire Sandiford, with head teacher Ashley Taylor and one-to-one Kerry Davidge EMN-170711-090236001
Amelia and Claire Sandiford, with head teacher Ashley Taylor and one-to-one Kerry Davidge EMN-170711-090236001

A disabled mum, who lost both her legs to sepsis, is pleading with Lincolnshire County Council to ‘think again’ and help her daughter stay at the school she loves.

Amelia Sandiford (9) has been at Osgodby Primary School since she was five years old and over that time her mum Claire says she has built up special relationships with both staff and pupils - something particularly important due to her complex learning needs.

Transport has always been provided to get Amelia to school.

Originally the family lived at Kingerby, but last October they moved to North Kelsey.

Just before the recent half-term holiday, Claire was told the transport was withdrawn, then was told it was to be reinstated.

Then during the half-term break, she was told it was in fact being withdrawn, meaning she now has to take Amelia to school herself, or change schools.

“At the moment I am ok and can get her here (to school), but I don’t know when I am going to have a bad day and then I can’t get her to school,” said Claire, who has her own complex medical needs.

Two days after having her third child, Claire developed sepsis, which led to both her legs being amputated below the knee.

She then developed kidney problems and required dialysis, before undergoing a kidney transplant last September.

She has also been diagnosed with heart problems.

Claire, a single mum, said: “We moved to North Kelsey because of my housing needs and also to be nearer my family and support network.

“I have been told Amelia could go to the local school, but a move would affect her dramatically.

“She doesn’t settle very easily and a change like this would knock her badly.

“Amelia has a bond with everyone here; they understand her and know her capabilities.

“They also fully understand my situation and give me lots of support.”

Amelia has just 18 months left at primary school before she moves on to a specialised secondary school.

Osgodby head teacher Ashley Taylor is supporting Claire in her appeal to reinstate the transport to allow Amelia to continue at the school.

He said: “Moving Amelia now would in effect mean two moves for her in just over a year.

“It would be completely the wrong decision for her and would be detrimental to her learning. Consistency is what she needs.

“Amelia has a rare condition and it would take somebody new a long time to get to know her properly.

“Just because Amelia has special educational needs shouldn’t mean lower expectations.”

Parents at the school are also getting behind Claire and are currently organising a petition.

Claire has also been in touch with her local MP, Sir Edward Leigh.

“From what I understand of this case there seems to have been a breakdown in communication; with a local resident appearing to receive contradictory information,” said Sir Edward.

“I know that in times of restricted budgets the county council must live within its means, but I trust they will review this case as a priority.

“I will support my constituent and her daughter in seeking a positive solution for both of them.”

The Rasen Mail contacted Lincolnshire County Council regarding the situation.

David Robinson, children’s commissioning manager, said: “We aren’t able to comment specifically on individual cases. However, we can assure you that, when a child has specific needs, we make sure we identify a school that can provide the right support.

“Children are normally only eligible for free transport to the nearest appropriate school, as identified by our Special Educational Needs and Disability professionals.

“Parents can choose to send their child to an alternative school, if they prefer, but in such cases they would be responsible for arranging the necessary transport.

“We always try to find a solution that works for everyone, but sadly that is not always possible. Parents do have the option to appeal if transport to their preferred school is refused.”