Girl, 10, misses three years of school as council ‘can’t find her a place’

Lisa Riley says her daughter Layla Fielding hasn’t been in regular education since she was expelled (Picture: Steve Allen / MEN Media)

A mum claims her 10-year-old daughter has been out of school for three years because the council hasn’t been able to find her a suitable place.

Lisa Riley says her daughter Layla Fielding hasn’t been in regular education since she was expelled in Year Three.

However, Bury Council disputes the claims and said it has consistently provided a school place for Layla but her mum deemed it unsuitable.

Layla, from Bury, has special education needs, with her mum saying she also has ADHD, sensory processing disorder and anxiety.

In the past, she would run out of the school when she felt overwhelmed and has even escaped school premises when things became too much.

But it is now almost three years since Layla had any regular classroom time, something which is having a ‘devastating’ effect both on her and her family.

Layla told the Manchester Evening News: ‘I think I’ve missed out on a lot by not going to school. I’ve been missing out on learning, socialising and everything like that.

‘I feel like I haven’t got any friends now and I feel lonely sometimes.’

Layla said she felt like she was ‘missing out’ on learning and making friends (Picture: Steve Allen / MEN Media)

Layla did attend St Joseph & St Bede’s for a few weeks in January after she was excluded from a school in Rochdale.

But her mother says her ‘flight or fight response’ was triggered – and she managed to escape the school grounds.

Lisa added: ‘It was the same scenario, Layla couldn’t cope.’

Layla now sees an alternative education provider, but this is only for three two-hour sessions each week.

Lisa said it was ‘no substitute for the formal education her daughter deserves’ and she was worried Layla was falling behind.

She said she believed that with the right support Layla would be ‘more than capable’ of having a formal education in a normal school.

Lisa said: ‘Almost three years in, we need a suitable place for Layla to attend.

‘And it’s not just the academic life and learning, it’s the social, the emotional, making friends, feeling part of a group and community that Layla is missing out on and has missed out on.

Bury Council said it had provided a school spot for Layla and had worked ‘extensively’ with Layla and her mum (Picture: Getty Images)

‘And really I just find it staggering to think the council can’t accommodate or find one single place to suit Layla.

‘My daughter deserves better than the council are delivering for her.’

A spokesperson for the council said: ‘We always strive to ensure that all children, whatever their circumstances, are provided with the education that is most appropriate for them and in the right setting.

‘We have worked extensively with Ms Riley over many months to find the solution that is best for her and her daughter. At all times Layla has had a school place.’

They said after Layla was excluded a primary school place was provided for her at a school in Bury in 2019 and a plan was drawn up to help her reintegrate into school but this broke down.

The spokesperson added: ‘In January 2020, the council agreed to fund full-time provision with an approved alternative provider to continue to work with Layla and reintegrate her back into her school environment.

‘Her mainstream school found it challenging to meet Layla’s needs, but Ms Riley was of the view that a school had to be a mainstream school and special provision would not be considered.

‘Unfortunately, this has delayed reaching an alternative arrangement for Layla.

‘Layla has a place at her primary school and is currently being provided with education offsite with an approved alternative provider as Layla has struggled to adapt to her school environment.

‘We are consulting with a range of primary mainstream schools and considering specialist provision alongside these options in order to identify the most suitable setting for Layla.’

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