Family’s fight to keep schooling for disabled girl

Family's fight to keep schooling for disabled girl
Family's fight to keep schooling for disabled girl

THE family of a severely disabled girl say they have been fighting education bosses for six years to keep appropriate schooling.

Teresa and Ian Histed, who live off The Ridge, in St Leonards, said East Sussex County Council is adamant it wants to send eight-year-old Katie to Glyne Gap School in Bexhill, a special needs school.

But her parents say it is totally unsuitable to their child’s unique needs.

Katie has quadriplegic cerebral palsy, can’t speak, and has eye sight and deafness problems.

She goes to Chailey Heritage, a specialist school that works with children similar to Katie, and her parents say it is ideal for her.

But because of Katie’s health problems she can only attend once a week and staff visit her at home three days a week for two hours.

Mrs Histed said: “Katie has never been able to go to school full-time at Chailey as she falls ill easily. She has got weak lungs and can’t swallow.

“If there’s a germ around she will pick it up.

“In 2004 we asked the county council to make a statement of educational needs for Katie so that she could attend Chailey Heritage, which is the only school anywhere near which specialises in the care of children like Katie.

“The council refused, saying that Glyne Gap was suitable as it had an excellent reputation which could meet her needs.”

She said it took two years until an appeal panel said Glyne Gap was not suitable.

Mrs Histed said: “Many times the council has said that its choice is an excellent special school but different children have very different needs, so it is absolutely not the case that one size fits all.”

She added that her daughter had been ill for most of the time since the 2006 hearing but the county council has again named Glyne Gap as the school for her in her new special needs statement.

Mrs Histed said: “We are now in the middle of appealing the case once again. The council has made no attempt to properly assess Katie or her needs.

“I have tried increasing her days at school but she has been ill every time. No one writes down the real facts about her health problems.

“She has to be upright all the time and if she lies down she struggles to breathe.

“The council has argued to us to say it cannot justify paying fees to a school Katie can hardly attend. Others attend Chailey part-time paided by the local authority.”

A spokesman for East Sussex County Council said: “Although Katie has very complex needs, medical reports give no indication that she should not be attending school.

“Although Chailey Heritage has supported the family in their home, Katie has not attended the school for some time.

“We believe she should be attending school and, in Glyne Gap, we have a nationally recognised outstanding special school very close to Katie’s home which we believe is more than capable of meeting her needs.”