Essex mum moves 70 miles to Kent to get kids into better schools – but they still can’t go for free

By Staff

A mum who moved 70 miles to secure a better school place for her children is still unable to get them to school as she hasn’t qualified for free transport. Laura Brockman, 40, uprooted from Essex to Kent to access improved educational support for her nine year old son, Jack Ward.

Two of her other children, eight-year-old Courtney Ward and six-year-old George Ward, also had to change schools.

But upon settling in Canterbury, she found out that she’s still outside the zone that qualifies for free school transportation for Courtney and George. With no driving skills and not being able to afford public transport, Laura is now stuck and her kids have missed a month of school.

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Given she also has another son, three-year-old Lenny, to care for, Laura admits to feeling helpless. She said: “I’m at a loss for what I can do. It’s been over a month and I have emailed and called several times to the county council and schools.”

Initially, George and Courtney were enrolled in a school seven miles away from their new home, but when commuting proved difficult Laura withdrew them. Now they’ve got a place in another school closer to home.

However, Laura’s application for free travel may still be rejected since she lives just slightly outside the qualifying radius set by the local council. If compelled to travel by bus, it will cost her £62 or she’ll have to endure a 47-minute walk each day with her four children.

Laura said she let all the schools know she couldn’t drive and that it was hard for her kids to get to schools in villages because there aren’t many buses. Her children are having a tough time since they can’t go to school.

She shared: “My kids are finding it really hard being at home. They used to be part of after school clubs and were very active, and now they’ve gone from that to nothing. They really found it hard.”

Before moving from Chelmsford, Laura checked everything about the new place, especially the schools. She was told she had to live there before she could sign up her kids for school.

She added: “I’d rather they be in a school environment. They’d miss out on important education that I can’t provide. If I chose to not send them to school, then they’d probably fine me.”

Laura is thinking about going back to Essex, but it would take a long time and cost a lot of money. She said: “It’s hard to know what to do. I’m hoping I’ll get some support and some advice from somebody. Anybody.”

A spokesperson from Kent County Council (KCC) said: “When we have a child with special needs transferred into Kent, we will always send the draft Education, Health and Care Plan to the parent seeking their representations and any preference for a school place. We are unable to move on with the process until we have received a response from the parent.”

“For children without special education needs, when a parent applies for, and is offered, places at the nearest appropriate school, but declines those places and chooses to send their children to a school further away, we do not offer council taxpayer-funded transport to fulfil such a parental choice.”

“The rules are clear around this. Such transport is offered to the nearest appropriate school. Where a child is seeking to start school for the first time this September, National Offer Day is not until 17th April, so no parent has yet been offered a school place.”

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