A furious mum has told how her disabled daughter is being “failed by the education system” as authorities struggle to find her a school place FIVE MOMTHS after she last attended class.
Jessica Calcutt, who is autistic and visually impaired, is suffering setbacks to her learning and social skills after months have passed without formal schooling, her mother said.
Before the pandemic, the six-year-old was attending primary school,.
But an annual education review in June found the school was inadequate for her needs and decided she would do better in a specialist school.
However, the authorities have failed to find Jessica a place at a specialist school, leaving her stuck at home and falling behind academically.
Her mum Shanice, of Chartham, Kent, said: “It’s horrible.
“I want her to be able to write her name, write a sentence. I want her to have the same opportunities as any other child.
“Every child is entitled to an education and to make friends, and at the minute she’s not getting that. Because of Covid, all she sees is me and her sister.
“This is affecting her behaviour and confidence. No parent should have to fight for any child, disabled or non-disabled, to get an education.”
Shanice, 28, wants Jessica to go to a school in nearby Canterbury, as the journey to the more-distant Herne Bay, where her previous school was located, overwhelmed her senses.
She added: “She’s autistic and the travel was too much for her.
“She’d lash out and get physical and verbal.
“I’m a single mum, I’m on a low income. I don’t drive.
“When Jessica’s school previously wouldn’t be able to cope with her, I was spending £20 to get her home by taxi. So I want her to be in Canterbury.”
But it has now been several months since her annual review, and Shanice worries it could be a long time yet before authorities allocate her a place.
In the meantime, Jessica receives 12 hours of professional home-schooling a week, which Shanice says is not enough.
Shanice says this is not sufficient for her daughter, who cannot write her name, and gets “very distressed” when her mum tries teaching her.
The mother added: “I try my best, but I’m not specialised in teaching autistic children. Jessica used to be so happy-go-lucky and willing to try everything, but at the minute she doesn’t want to.
“Being out of school is going to affect her socialising with other children.
“Eventually, she won’t be the confident little girl that she is.”
Shanice is adamant that Jessica does not return to a mainstream school because her needs were poorly accommodated there.
While Kent County Council would not comment specifically on Jessica’s case, a spokesman said the authority is “committed” to ensuring every child in the county has access to a high-quality school place that is appropriate for their needs.
The council’s interim director of education, David Adams, continued: “We work closely with families and schools to ensure this happens.
“When a child has very complex needs it is not always possible to find them a place at a school close to their home as the best provision for their needs may be at a school in another part of the county.
“We appreciate this may cause disappointment for families and concern around travel arrangements, however, KCC can offer assistance with transport to school for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
“We would encourage families in this situation to contact our School Transport team or visit our website for more information.”