Mum dying of cancer faces another battle over school places for her children (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Mum dying of cancer faces another battle over school places for her children
A CANCER-stricken mum appealing for her two little boys to be together at school has been flatly denied by Dorset County Council.
Michelle Amey is desperate for her sons to go the same school so they can support each other through her terminal illness.
But she and husband Stuart have been told six-year-old George will not be able to join Charlie, nine, at Mudeford Junior due to a lack of places.
George is currently a pupil at Mudeford Infants, a place he was only given when Education Secretary Michael Gove intervened due to Michelle’s failing health two years ago.
Despite its claim to be a feeder school to the nearby juniors, history is repeating itself with George once again refused a place.
Michelle was originally diagnosed with skin cancer seven years ago, but the deadly disease has now spread to her brain, kidneys, lungs, liver and lymph nodes.
Two years ago she was given the devastating news that she had just nine months to live but has since been taking a trial drug to buy time. In the last two years she has had four brain tumours removed.
“I am fighting for my life but I am determined to fight for the boys to be together,” she said.
“They have to put up with a lot at home – people don’t realise what goes on behind closed doors.
“Sometimes I can’t walk, my medication makes me extremely sensitive to daylight, I have severe joint pain and nausea – the symptoms are similar to chemotherapy and I don’t know when they are going to strike so sometimes the boys are like my little carers. I want to be able to take my children to school but I can’t be in two places at once.”
George has been offered a place at Somerford Primary, but will be separated from his classmates, all but one of whom are going to Mudeford Junior.
“He has been doing really well at school but is getting really upset about this,” said Michelle. “He doesn’t need another knock and nor do the rest of the family. This is really stressful and I believe the cancer has got worse since all the school business started.”
Stuart, who works in Southampton, recently went through the appeal process to try to win George a place but was refused by a panel he described as “cruel and rude”.
He said: “I felt like they were completely against me and made me justify everything I said about Michelle’s illness despite having a letter from the oncologist, which confirmed the seriousness of her illness and recommended the boys go to the same school.
“It was as if they thought I was lying – I couldn’t believe the way we were treated.”
The family, who live in Saxonford Road, Friar’s Cliff, are considering a further appeal and plan to contact Mr Gove through Christchurch MP Chris Chope, who they described as “extremely supportive”.
Dorset County Council’s cabinet member for education, Toni Coombs, said: “The appeals panel are independent and administer the process very strictly. I do not intervene for any individuals. I am aware of the previous history and I was certainly surprised by the outcome.”
She said the council is looking into the way the appeal was handled and said Mudeford Junior was “bursting at the seams”.
Sara Tough, Dorset County Council’s director for children’s services, added: “The independent panel that considers these appeals have criteria and a code of conduct to ensure all decisions are made in a fair and lawful way.
“We are trying to support the family in any way we can following this decision.”
Classrooms are full up
CHRISTCHURCH is at the heart of the latest school places crisis to hit the area.
A rising birth rate and more young families means many primary schools in the town are full.
Temporary classrooms are already being used at Christchurch Infants School and plans have been announced to add three more classrooms at Burton Primary. Talks with a landowner are also ongoing for a brand new £7million school in the borough.
Recent years have seen problems in Bournemouth where the council has been forced to expand several schools and to build new ones.
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