Hingham mother’s anger at school mix up

A mother is demanding an apology from Norfolk County Council after confusion with the authority led to her five-year-old daughter starting at two schools within three weeks.

Victoria Commons, 33, of Hingham, rang the council in December reminding them of changes to her address, worried that letters regarding her young daughter's schooling may be sent to the wrong home.

When by May she had heard nothing, Ms Commons claims she rang again to find her address had not been updated and told spaces at her first choice school – Hingham Primary School – had been filled.

Her daughter, Willow, finally secured a place at her next preferred option - Attleborough Infant School - but with the school being seven miles away it raised concerns with Ms Commons, who is unable to drive due to ME, fibromyalgia and chronic back pain. However, she believed the council would be able to provide transport.

Willow began at school on September 13, but transport was still not arranged. Her father, who no longer lives with the family, could only provide lifts for the first week.

After enquiries, Ms Commons was told by the council that transport would not be provided as spaces were still available at Hingham, which she should have placed at the top of her options list. With no way of getting to school, Willow was taken out of classes until her place was finalised at Hingham. She only started at the school on Tuesday.

Ms Commons said: 'I'm quite angry at the way I have been treated. Because of their mistake, I have put my child into another school. It makes me feel like a bad mother.'

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She is also counting the cost of having bought a �52 uniform for Attleborough Infant School out of her disability and income benefits, but her biggest concern is for Willow, who suffers from kidney problems, sleep apnoea and vacant spells.

'I think it has been worrying her because she has had bad nights. On the worst nights... she shakes and her oxygen levels will go down. This has put stress on a child that can get very ill,' said Ms Commons.

Richard Snowden, head of pupil and student support at Norfolk County Council, said problems had occurred because Ms Commons had not cited Hingham as her first choice, but did not comment on whether she had been told the school was full at the time. He added that the admission teams always advised parents they have a right to apply for a school even if it is full.

'We appreciate the issues Ms Commons has had in getting her daughter to Attleborough and wrote to her earlier in the week to apologise for any difficulties she may have experienced during the application process. However, Willow does now have a place at Hingham and we hope that she is able to settle in and enjoy her new school,' he said.