A MOTHER-OF-THREE fears she could be forced to send her four-year-old son to school alone in a taxi after her latest plea to have her children taught at the same school was rejected.
Michelle Henderson recently moved back to Ashington after plans to take her young children – Andrew, five, Jack, four and three-year-old Layla – to the Middle East fell through.
The boys were initially given back their old places at Pegswood First School, which is 3.6 miles and a bus ride away from their home, as Ms Henderson does not drive.
But with the daily cost of the commute putting a strain on Ms Henderson’s finances, she attempted to find her kids places at a primary school closer to her Ridsdale Place home.
“The children and I were meant to go and live in Abu Dhabi but it didn’t work out so we came back,” she said.
“We’ve had to live with my mother and father in Ashington, but I couldn’t get all of the children into a school nearby.
“We tried it but it was too difficult to get the bus through to Pegswood.
“Wansbeck is the closest school to us and Andrew was able to transfer, with Layla starting nursery there on January 14.
“The only problem is getting Jack in as there are no reception class places in Ashington.
“When I spoke to the people in school admissions they were unhelpful.
“The only offer we had was to send Jack to the school at Stakeford, but we would have problems with transport again as it’s more than 2.5 miles away.
“I was told to put him in a taxi, but he is four years old and would be far too anxious to get in a taxi with a stranger.
“You teach them not to get into a stranger’s car and that is what you are asking him to do.
“There’s also the problem that if I have to put him in a taxi I can’t then take the other two children to school.
“But that’s the only option given, and I’ve been told, once Jack turns five, if he doesn’t got to school, the courts will chase us. I’m hitting a brick wall.”
Jack has not attended school since November and Michelle says she is not equipped to home school him.
“I’ve no idea where to go with it. There’s not a lot I can do,” she said.
“School is about building confidence and friends and if he doesn’t go he won’t have that.
“But if there are a lot of children that need places perhaps they need to add more classes at the local schools.”
A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said it was bound by Government rules that limit the size of infant classes to 30 pupils and, if a particular school was full, there was little they could do.
A spokesman for the authority said: “All parents are offered a right to appeal to an independent panel if they are unhappy about an admissions decision.
“The panel’s decisions are bound by infant class size legislation and the school admissions code set out by Government and followed by all schools.”