Separate schools for sisters

PUBLISHED: 15:04 17 October 2007 | UPDATED: 12:57 04 May 2010

Iona at home with her mum Becky.

Iona at home with her mum Becky.

By CATHERINE ATKINSON FOUR year-old Iona Trainor has been denied a place at the same Ely school as her sister. She was due to start at Spring Meadow in September, but her parents have decided to keep her at home as a protest about the way they claim the l

By CATHERINE ATKINSON

FOUR year-old Iona Trainor has been denied a place at the same Ely school as her sister. She was due to start at Spring Meadow in September, but her parents have decided to keep her at home as a protest about the way they claim the local authority has treated them and Iona who suffers from chronic asthma.

Cambridgeshire County Council altered the catchment area boundaries in ???and two appeals boards have ruled that Iona's health should not be a factor in where she goes to school.

"It was the icing on the cake when they sent me a letter informing me of the decision," said Iona's mother Becky Trainor. "It was addressed to the wrong person."

Miss Trainor's house in Victoria Street is now deemed closer to Spring Meadow than St John's, which Iona's sister Indy attends.

Iona's father Tony Wilson and Miss Trainor are frightened their daughter's breathing problems will affect her ability to walk the longer distance to school. Iona was taken to intensive care at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire this summer when she became ill and has to take three types of asthma medication each day.

"She gets tired after five minutes playing," said Mr Wilson. "The winter walk to school isn't going to do her any good at all. Anyway, why shouldn't two young girls be walked to school by their mother? Governments are always telling us to get kids out in the fresh air and get a bit of exercise. There's no better way than walking the short journey to school."

Both Miss Trainor and Mr Wilson were brought up in the county and say they resent outsiders getting school places over themselves. "We've heard of people changing their addresses just to get their kids into the right school, but we just want our kid to go where she can be happy and healthy. Iona's grandmother lives opposite St John's so if she has an attack there would be someone close by to look after her."

But after consulting with a top paediatrician the County Council finally ruled there was no medical reason why Iona could not go to Spring Meadow. Even after a second appeal to the education admissions board, county council are not budging and the ombudsman has dropped their case.

A spokesperson for the county council, the body that made the decision, said: "Two independent appeal panels and medical information have all found against the family. Classes at St John's are full and the child has a perfectly good place at the alternative school. We are really sorry and apologise for all the distress this has caused.

"Everything was considered there was no medical risk to the child."

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