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Chatham mum faced with nightmare school run after Medway Council puts her two girls in different schools

By Jenni Horn

A mum is faced with a nightmare school run – getting her two daughters to two different schools, two miles apart and with no transport of her own.

Single mum Victoria Stone cannot get Indica, eight, and Lacey-Louise, six, into the same school.

Victoria Stone with daughters Indica and Lacey-Louise
Victoria Stone with daughters Indica and Lacey-Louise

Ms Stone was forced to move house suddenly because of a domestic problem and is now living in Chatham. She applied to four schools for both her girls and asked for them to attend the same school.

Indica was offered a place at Phoenix Junior Academy in Glencoe Road. Ms Stone was still waiting to hear about a place for Lacey-Louise but accepted the offer for Indica. Then she discovered Lacey-Louise had been offered Oaklands School in Weedswood Road, about two miles away.

Ms Stone has appealed but been told there is no room at Oaklands for Indica and no room at Greenvale Infants, the partner school for Phoenix Junior, for Lacey-Louise.

Indica has started her new school but with her mum unable to make the journey between the schools, Lacey-Louise hasn’t been in the classroom since leaving her previous school on March 24.

"Lacey-Louise just wants to go to school" - Victoria Stone

Indica has to start school at 8.40am and Lacey-Louise would be expected to start five minutes later. But Ms Stone, 25, doesn’t drive and would have to walk Lacey-Louise to the gates, with 16-week-old baby Freddie in tow.

She said: “I have looked into getting the bus but this would cost £119 a week and I can’t afford that. Lacey-Louise doesn’t qualify for free school transport because the council says the distance is 1.9 miles but Google says it is 2.1 miles. Even if she did qualify, I would still have to pay for me [on the bus].

Ms Stone added: “I have thought about home educating Lacey-Louise until September but I don’t think I’m up to the standard. Lacey-Louise just wants to go to school.”

Ms Stone said she had spoken to Oaklands about her difficulties.

“They are not happy about having a child which will be late for school every day,” she said. “But if Lacey-Louise goes to Oaklands, that will happen.”

Ms Stone's nightmare school run
Ms Stone's nightmare school run

According to the Medway Council website, schools should “actively discourage a late arrival” because a pupil arriving late “may seriously disrupt not only his or her continuity of learning but also that of others.”

The DfES recommends a reasonable registration period is up to 30 minutes from the beginning of registration to the formal closing of the register. All pupils arriving during this period should be marked late.

Ms Stone said: “I have looked at breakfast and after-school clubs so I can drop one off earlier or pick them up later but there is nothing for free. It all costs money, which I haven’t got.”

A council spokesman said: “Ms Stone’s younger daughter was allocated a place at the nearest school to the home address with a vacant place in her year group. An independent appeal panel did not feel they could uphold the appeal in Ms Stone’s favour.”

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