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Disabled Surbiton boy could be forced to travel 70 miles for school

Henry Ash

Henry Ash

First published in Education News by

A disabled child could be forced to travel 70 miles to and from school each day because his educational needs cannot be met in the borough.

Henry Ash suffers from epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of fluid in the skull leading to brain swelling, so his development is delayed and he requires extra help.

The seven-year-old was a full-time pupil at Christ Church CofE Primary School, in Pine Gardens, Surbiton, with his two siblings until September last year, when the school said it could no longer meet his needs.

Kingston Council began to look for an alternative school for Henry but for the past nine months he has only been able to go to school for an hour a day and is taught alone with no integration with other children.

Henry’s father, Spencer Ash said: “We have had enough now; he was supposed to be able to stay there until they find a suitable replacement.

“He doesn’t mix with any of the other children, just goes in for the hour, it’s no good for him.”

The council has found a suitable school for Henry but it is in Sussex, which would mean the boy would have to make a 35-mile journey, including the often gridlocked M25, twice each day.

Henry’s parents said the suggestion was “madness” as they said Surrey County Council school Linden Bridge, in Worcester Park, would meet his needs and be much closer.

The Surbiton family are desperate for Henry to get the education he deserves and Mr Ash said the situation had started to affect their livelihood, as he runs an online business from home with his wife.

He said: “We can’t run our business because he is here all the time and constantly needs care and attention. We can’t go on like this.”

A council spokesman said they appreciate the distance to the Sussex school is not ideal and said they were exploring the family’s preferred school with Surrey County Council.

The spokesman said: “We appreciated this is a difficult situation for the family, but are committed to working with them to get the best possible outcome for Henry.”

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