School’s out Move leaves chil­dren away from lessons

Gloucestershire Echo - - NEWS - robin.jenk­[email protected]­ Robin JENK­INS

TWO chil­dren study­ing for GCSES have not been able to get to school for nearly six months. And their mother has crit­i­cised a coun­cil over its han­dling of the si­t­u­a­tion.

Louise Ben­ning­ton has be­come in­creas­ingly anx­ious about the lack of ed­u­ca­tion for Ja­cob, 14, and 15-yearold Kather­ine.

Louise said is­sues with trans­port had af­fected her and her hus­band Clive af­ter they and their seven chil­dren moved from Tewkes­bury to Church­down in March.

She said they had to move be­cause their land­lord wanted to sell the fourbed­room home where they had lived for seven years.

Be­cause of their large fam­ily size, they were then given help by Tewkes­bury Bor­ough Coun­cil.

It found them tem­po­rary emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion at a three-bed­room semi-de­tached house in Church­down.

And while that has seen the fam­ily strug­gling to cope with liv­ing in very cramped con­di­tions, Louise’s main con­cern has been Ja­cob and Kather­ine not go­ing to school.

They had both been at Tewkes­bury School but have not been able to get there since the move.

Nei­ther Louise nor Clive drive and Louise said there had been prob­lems get­ting them to Tewkes­bury by bus.

She also said there had been a lack of spa­ces at other schools closer to their new home.

She said: “If it was the other way around and I had taken them out of school, it would have got me into trou­ble.

“It’s not that we don’t want them to go to school, we just can’t phys­i­cally get them to the school they’re en­listed at, Tewkes­bury, and no­body seems to be lis­ten­ing.”

The 39 year old added: “The coun­cil is pass­ing it to other de­part­ments and mak­ing us ap­ply here and there. It’s been stress­ful.

“I don’t blame any­one in par­tic­u­lar but ob­vi­ously there’s a sys­tem in place that isn’t work­ing.”

The coun­cil has said it would help with bus trans­port so Ja­cob could go to Hen­ley Bank High School in Brock­worth and Kather­ine could at­tend Bridge Train­ing in Glouces­ter – a char­ity help­ing young­sters to de­velop their aca­demic, per­sonal and prac­ti­cal skills.

While the cou­ple look for­ward to Ja­cob and Kather­ine re­sum­ing their ed­u­ca­tion, they are hop­ing that Tewkes­bury Bor­ough Coun­cil will find them a big­ger home.

Of the fam­ily’s other chil­dren, twoyear-old Anais is too young for school and 16-year-old Nathan is set to go to Glouces­ter­shire Col­lege in Septem­ber.

Poppy, five, Holly, seven and El­lie, 10, at­tend Church­down Par­ton Manor Ju­nior School.

A Glouces­ter­shire County Coun­cil spokesman said: “The coun­cil does not man­age the process for chil­dren want­ing to move school as this is some­thing par­ents have to ar­range them­selves.

“We are able to pro­vide sup­port to fam­i­lies who are strug­gling with this process and a par­ent ad­vi­sor has been work­ing with this fam­ily to en­sure these chil­dren are able to ac­cess school in Septem­ber.

“The coun­cil will con­tinue to sup­port the fam­ily over the sum­mer and pro­vide any help and guid­ance re­quired.”

Pete Tonge, head of com­mu­nity ser­vices at Tewkes­bury Bor­ough Coun­cil, said: “We are in reg­u­lar con­tact with the fam­ily, and we are work­ing with them to en­sure that they are aware of, and fully un­der­stand, the process they need to fol­low to find a big­ger prop­erty.”

Pic­ture: Nick Par­ford Pho­tog­ra­phy

Louise Ben­ning­ton, cen­tre, with her chil­dren El­lie, Kather­ine, Poppy, Anais, Holly, Nathan Ben­ning­ton and Ja­cob

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