“WHEN I see my daughter crying, I know I’ve got to stay strong and fight the world.”
These are the words of a Taunton mum who is fighting for her child to attend a specialist school, amid fears she will not cope at a mainstream establishment.
Kelly Rogers, whose daughter Brooklyn, 10, is set to attend Castle School this September, is outraged at Somerset County Council’s (SCC) decision to send her daughter to a mainstream school.
Brooklyn, who was born with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), struggles in social situations – particularly at school.
Kelly is concerned being at Castle School will be too busy for her daughter and not provide her with the support she needs, and has expressed her concerns to SCC.
But SCC have said Brooklyn’s needs can be met in a mainstream school setting.
“We are committed to working with families to ensure that the right support is available for all pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND),” said a spokesperson for SCC.
“For the majority of children, including those with an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) in place, they can and should have their needs met in a mainstream school setting.”
Kelly, whose daughter in tears most nights over the decision, is determined to find a school better suited.
She has been to visit Cambian Somerset School, on the outskirts of Taunton, and believes this would be a much better fit for Brooklyn.
“I feel so totally run down, I am trying to fight a war for my children and all I am getting told is no,” said Kelly.
“It is really unfair. I phone support groups everyday, phone GPs, schools and try and get help.
“I am left then with children who are upset and distressed.
“Brooklyn has got no understanding of the world, she can’t bath or wash herself and she has high sensory needs.
“My fear is the local authority will still say she’s going there in September and then she will be a non-school attender. I feel if I don’t send her there, I will be threatened with a prison sentence.
“But there are just 25 children in Cambian School with additional needs and I know Brooklyn will cope in a place like this.
“Here, she will be picked up and brought home, and supported mentally in a much smaller setting than Castle.”
Kelly, who also has three other children with additional needs, including ADHD, has been through the process many times before with her older children.
Brooklyn, who is currently at Bishops Henderson school, is four years behind on her learning and wears ear defenders during the day to cope with the noise.
She also has an EHC plan in place, which the secondary school will take into account.
“Brooklyn wrote a letter saying I do not want to go to Castle and I will run away, I am really scared and still they are trying to send her there,” added Kelly.
“I don’t want Castle School named on her plan.
“As a parent, I know my child best and our preference should become top of the list. I was exactly the same as Brooklyn as a child and I never got supported, and I couldn’t cope with it.
“And I went through this with my other two children and I am trying to fight for my daughter so she can have a better chance.
“I just feel really sorry for her and I know if they give her a chance she would thrive at the right school.”
SCC have said they do take parents’ views into account.
“We do not comment on individual cases but can confirm the EHCP assessment process takes into account the views of parents/carers, children, schools and a range of other professionals to consider what provision is appropriate,” the spokesperson for SCC added.
“Schools, the NHS and the County Council are working closely to improve support for children with SEND through the delivery of the county’s Written Statement of Action. Part of this work is the current inquiry to look at educational inclusion in Somerset.”