School run nightmare

mcMillan Family.  mcMillan Family Jayne McMillan with children Carys,Callum,Leona and Kirsty.
mcMillan Family. mcMillan Family Jayne McMillan with children Carys,Callum,Leona and Kirsty.
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Mum’s fury at 42-mile trip to get children to their classes

A COUPLE from Sheffield are being forced to send their three children to three different schools in three separate areas of the city.

Jayne and Lee McMillan’s three youngsters all have the same rare genetic disorder - but are being asked to attend three different special schools.

Jayne, aged 43, says she is at her wits’ end with worry over how Leona, four, Carys, eight, and Callum, 12, will get to classes each day.

Leona has been given a place at Woolley Wood School in Shiregreen, two-and-a-half miles from home; Carys attends Mossbrook School in Norton, more than nine miles from home, and Callum goes to Seven Hills near the city centre, four miles from home.

A round-trip from the family’s Southey home and back, dropping off first little Leona, then Carys and finally Callum, would be over 21 miles long and would take 39 minutes in total - without traffic.

That adds up to a 42-mile trip to and from the schools morning and afternoon combined and a total of one hour and 20 minutes of driving each day.

Jayne said: “I do have a car myself, but I can hardly be in three places at once at three o’clock to pick them all up. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Council officers are putting together plans to organise transport for the youngsters from their home in Mooshine Way.

But Jayne cannot understand why Leona has been given a place at Woolley Wood School in Shiregreen in the north - while Carys is at the opposite end of the city at Mossbrook in Norton in the south.

Callum moved up to Seven Hills School, close to the city centre near Norfolk Park, last year. Jayne said: “Both Callum and Carys used to go to Mossbrook which was no problem, and then last year Callum moved to Seven Hills which at the time was also based nearby. But this year Seven Hills is moving to a new school on the All Saints campus near the middle of town.

“Now, to make things worse, the council has decided Leona can’t go to Mossbrook as she doesn’t have enough mobility, and she must go to Woolley Wood instead - which couldn’t be further away.”

Leona’s school, in Shiregreen, is nine-and-a-half miles from Mossbrook which big sister Carys attends. Carys and Callum both used to go to Mossbrook in a school minibus, but a change of policy last year saw them travelling by taxi.

“That was difficult for Carys as she felt she’d been segregated from her friends. I just don’t know what will happen from Monday,” said Jayne.

“As for Leona, in my eyes I feel she is simply too bright to go to Woolley Wood. She is more advanced than the other two were at her age. I feel she will be held back.”

Woolley Wood teaches youngsters with profound and multiple learning difficulties, many with limited mobility.

“We’ve been working with the council to try to resolve things but time is running out,” Jayne said.

“Another option was that Leona attends Grenoside Primary which has an integrated unit - but we say that if they think Leona can cope in a mainstream school, why can’t she cope at Mossbrook?”

Sarah Draper, assistant director for special educational needs at the city council, said she recognised the difficult circumstances.

“We have been working closely with the family to get them the right support. This includes putting together a travel package for the family as well as meeting their youngest daughter’s educational needs.

“A school place for a child with special needs is determined on the basis of which school can best help that child reach their full potential. We carry out a full, detailed assessment of the individual child’s needs.

“In this case it was felt her needs would be best met by the support available at Woolley Wood, which is a specialist school.

“We will continue to work with the family as far as we can to resolve the situation,” Mrs Draper added.