Frustrated Chesterfield mum unable to secure school place for autistic daughter

Kirsty Venner is pictured with her 10-year-old daughter, Meredith.
Kirsty Venner is pictured with her 10-year-old daughter, Meredith.

A Chesterfield mum has spoken of her frustration at being unable to secure a secondary school place for her autistic daughter with September fast approaching.

Kirsty Venner says her daughter Meredith has been rejected from mainstream institutions in the area, but has also been refused a place at her chosen specialist school by Derbyshire County Council, leaving her stranded.

The 10-year-old, who suffers from autism, ADHD and anxiety and will turn 11 during the summer holidays, is ‘in limbo’ as her friends prepare to start at their respective secondary schools in the autumn.

Kirsty said: “Meredith has missed out on so much, I’d hate her to lose out again.

“I’ve been trying to sort this out since February but Meredith still has nowhere to go come September.

“Her behaviour has spiralled out of control as her anxiety has worsened down to the fact her friends know where they’re going, but she still doesn’t have a place.”

For the past five years Meredith has been attending Poolsbrook primary school, but is often excluded.

Shge cannot take part in activities such as breakfast clubs and residential trips as the school does not have the facilities to accommodate her needs.

With recommendations from educational psychologists that she would be better suited to a specialist secondary school, Meredith has expressed an interest in Dawn House School in Nottinghamshire.

But this was rejected by the Derbyshire County Council special educational needs panel- Kirsty thinks it’s down to the fact the school is further afield.

“But we’d get Meredith there if it meant she had a better experience,” added Kirsty. “Transport would also be provided. The trouble is specialist schools in the Chesterfield area aren’t equipped to deal with her behaviour.”

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council said: “While we do not comment on the details of individual cases, we always work hard to find the appropriate school for a child. Our staff work with families to find solutions to help overcome any barriers to a child’s learning and participation.

“This sometimes includes looking at specialist schools or mainstream schools with additional resources.”

It comes after the Derbyshire Times reported that autistic pupils were being ‘failed’ in Derbyshire, with the Department for Education revealing that 75 children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder were excluded from primary schools over the course of the 2015-2016 academic year.

In the case of pupils with autism, 5.8 per cent were given at least one exclusion in 2015-16, compared to just 2.2 per cent of the wider population.