No place for girl at Rainham school that she attended for a year

A mum has hit out at Havering Council for refusing to allow her special needs daughter to continue her education at a school she has attended for a year.

Four-year-old Olivia Pettipher has been taught at Newtons nursery school, in Lowen Road, Rainham, since October last year.

The shy youngster, who has speech development problems, has recently begun talking in class and has just started to make friends.

But the council told mum Annette the child can no longer continue with her classmates because the pair have moved out of the borough.

The council has said she is top of the waiting list, but Annette branded the decision “cruel”.

“Olivia has only just started speaking in the last few weeks,” Annette told the Recorder. “She is obviously comfortable at the school and I feel it will be detrimental to pull her out now.

“The school is great, with a lovely sense of community. I fear Olivia’s speech problems will get worse if she’s moved.”

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Council rules mean parents must reapply for a school space when a child moves from pre-school to infant school.

Annette and Olivia had been living with Annette’s mum in Betterton Road, Rainham, when Olivia first started at Newtons following Annette’s split from her husband 18 months ago.

Since then, the working mum has found a flat in Thurrock - which means Olivia no longer has priority for a school place in the borough.

“Olivia spends half her week with my mum in Havering. Mum often takes her to school and brings her home.

“I want the council to allow Olivia to stay at the school which is best for her.”

Cllr Paul Rochford, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “We are sorry we have not been able to allocate Olivia with a place at Newtons Primary School.

“Although she has attended the nursery for the past year, this does not guarantee a place at the school. Her application was considered in the same way as those of residents living in the borough.”