Daventry teenager with complex health needs has to travel 75 miles to school each day

A teenage Daventry girl with complex health needs has to travel 75 miles each day to get to a school with space to help her.

By Lucie Green
Monday, 20th September 2021, 11:06 am
Jen Paine.
Jen Paine.

Jen Paine has a connective tissue disorder called hyper mobility type Ehlers Danlos Syndrome which causes dislocations, chronic pain and mobility issues, a liver and lung disease called Alpha 1 anti-trypsin deficiency, ASD, sensory processing disorder, language difficulties and selective mutism.

She has to make an hour-long trip to Potterspury Lodge School with dad David every day.

Her mother, Katie, who has four children and a number of health issues, said the stress has taken its toll on the family.

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Lauren and Jen with siblings Stephen and Molly.

She told the Daventry Express: "We don't need another secondary school, we need a special needs school.

"I recently had a decision upheld by the LGSCO (Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman) regarding my daughter that has SEND and another one being looked at now regarding my son, both of whom have an EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan).

Katie, who lives on The Grange, has to take her son, Stephen, 9, who also has SEN to school, said there is lack of support and school [places for children with SEND in Northamptonshire.

She added: "Even though we live less then a mile from a SEN school, my daughter has to travel 75 miles a day for school, which is not as bad as some of the children in Daventry.

"The distances are just not acceptable. My husband has to make the two trips every day in between work. He's exhausted."

She said lot of parents in Northamptonshire are finding getting the right support and placement for their children is a battle.

"There is unacceptable delays causing a loss of education," Katie added.

"Spaces in SEND schools are far and few between, most are full to capacity and taking more children on roll would have a detrimental effect on the children who already attend."

Katie said Jen, who has self-harmed because of the worry, is unable to travel in a taxi to the school.

"With autism, if Jennifer got a different driver each day, it would throw her world into chaos," her mother added.

"There is a SEN school less than a mile away, but our daughter is not academically suitable for it, it's so unfair and I know we are not the only parents going through this."

Katie said West Northamptonshire Council wanted to put Jen in mainstream school.

"She has previously attended a mainstream secondary school in a small nurture group and she couldn’t cope and stopped attending after only three months so specialist was the only option left for her.

"She couldn't cope in school ," she added.

"They can't meet her needs. The system needs to change. It's not fair on these poor families."

The family have nothing but praise for Potterspury Lodge.

"Jen loves it there and it is absolutely the right place for her," said Katie.

"But the travelling distance does tire her out and we wish there was more schools like it closer to home not just for Jen but for all SEND children who have to travel long distances just to get an education."

The Daventry Express has contacted West Northamptonshire Council for a reply.