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"They had to eat their Christmas dinner on the floor"

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A mum-of-two, who recently moved to Newbury following a marriage break up, has blamed John Rankin Junior School for failing to safeguard her children and ruining their Christmas.

Andrea Roberson, of Queens Road, is threatening legal action against the school after her two children, aged eight and 10, were taken off the school register two days before the end of the term.

She said they were left in a corridor at the school as she battled with the council, over disputed Covid return to school dates, to keep them there.

“This is a disgusting way to treat children,” said Ms Roberson. “They were left in a corridor, and had to eat their Christmas dinner on the floor. They even had to watch other children walk past in their party hats.”

The school removed them after a row over the amount of time the two children, who had tested positive for Covid, should have off.

Ms Roberson claims they had been off for ten days, but was told to collect her children from school after dropping them off on the Monday. The school said they should be off for an extra day.

What ensued, she said, was a catalogue of misunderstanding, which escalated to the school removing the children from the roll.

Ms Roberson said she fired off an email in frustration saying the children would not be coming back to the school.

“I never meant forever,” she said. “I just meant until the following term as there were only two days to go of that term.

“I wrote several other emails, but they were all ignored, and all I got was an email from the headteacher, who I have never spoken to at all, saying they had been removed from the roll.

“This is not right. How can they decide that so quickly without even checking first?”

In a statement to us the senior leadership at John Rankin said: "Regarding taking children off roll. We only do this when told by parents that their children will not be returning to the school. We take safeguarding very seriously; our most recent Ofsted report highlights a strong culture in this area.

"We would not comment on individual families or cases, but like all schools at this current time we are working hard to keep John Rankin open and safe to all our families. With such high levels of Covid this is increasingly difficult. In situations regarding isolation periods, we have followed government guidelines. When there is a query, we take advice from our colleagues at West Berkshire Council."

Ms Roberson said she found the lack of communication with her "disgraceful", and said, tearfully: “I am just trying to make a new life here. Instead, we have been put through such terrible stress. The children have been worried all over Christmas that they have no school to go to."

In a statement, West Berkshire Council said: “We aren’t able to discuss or comment on individual cases which should be resolved via the school’s formal complaints procedure.

"School places are available in Newbury in the relevant age groups and our admissions team is always willing to assist parents in finding a place for their children, where appropriate at the same school. We take any safeguarding concerns seriously and will always investigate to establish the facts.”

The children have since been offered a place at another Newbury school.

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