Sidcup dad grows desperate as schools say there is no space for disabled daughter

Paul and Karen Jenkins with Lily-Rose, two, and Billy, seven

Paul Jenkins is concerned about getting a place for daughter Lily-Rose, 2

First published in News
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News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A SIDCUP father has spoken about his heartbreaking struggle to find a school place for his disabled daughter after being told there was "no space for her".

Paul Jenkins, 32, of Ashcroft Crescent, has faced a double blow after special schools in two different boroughs told him there isn’t space for two-year-old Lily-Rose to start in September.

The doctors do not currently know what the toddler is suffering from but she is unable to communicate, sit, crawl, walk or feed herself and Mr Jenkins is concerned about her falling behind even further.

He and wife, Karen, were told it was unlikely there would be space in the Bexley special school they viewed and last week were told there was no space for her in the Greenwich facility either.

He said: "Her brain is not growing properly.

"The doctors don’t know what it is about but they’re classing it as global developmental delay at the moment.

"It is unknown if she will ever be able to sit, walk or feed herself and although we have come to terms with this as best we can, it is still very hard for us.

"We can’t risk having any other children because we don’t know what genes caused it.

"It’s stressful enough caring for a disabled child without this as well."

Mr Jenkins, who works in education, is worried about his daughter missing out on vital support.

He said: "She desperately needs schooling to aid her development and knowing there isn’t any provision for her is so difficult.

"The provision for Bexley is at Shenstone School.

"When we viewed it we were informed it was highly unlikely there would be a space for Lily-Rose this September.

News Shopper: Sidcup dad grows desperate as two boroughs say there is no school space for disabled daughter

"So we requested she be placed at Willow Dene School in Greenwich but we were told last week there is no space. She's 17th on the waiting list.

"It’s taking time away from me spending time with my family because it’s taking so long to sort out.

"We’re not annoyed with the people involved, it’s the system that needs to change - there needs to be more provision."

Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said:  "I have raised the family's clear concerns with Bexley Council and have sought assurance her schooling needs will be met. 

"I understand the council is working to secure additional special school places and remain in contact with the family."

A Bexley spokeswoman said: "We understand the families anxieties and because of that, we can assure you we are doing everything possible to help.

"We are currently in the process of drawing up an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) for Lily Rose. These plans are replacing what is known as a Statement of Special Educational Needs.

"In her EHC Plan we have recommended Lily Rose receives additional support in her current nursery placement, and we are visiting her nursery this week to plan that support."

A Greenwich spokesman said: "In response to a request from Bexley Council seeking a place at Willow Dene School for this child, we have informed Bexley the school is unable to offer her a place as the current classes in her year group are full."

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