A GROUP of parents who 'fought tirelessly' to send their children to one Somerset school are now having to face another battle.

Abbots Way School in Meare, which opened this year in one of the former Shapwick School buildings, can only take on 15 students due to planning issues.

This is a specialist school for children with specific learning differences, such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and co-occurring conditions such as developmental language disorder and visual processing issues.

They submitted a planning application to increase their capacity from 15 to 40 pupils, but it was rejected due to a traffic and driveway issue.

At the moment, there are six students who can only attend the school part time - for two or three days a week - due to the 15 pupil limit.

Gareth Wright, co-founder and joint headteacher of the school, said they were 'very disappointed' the first application was rejected with 'little working together from certain agencies and zero negotiation or further discussion around capacity'.

But now the school has submit another application, which they are hoping will be approved.

"Our planning consultations are pleased to have been invited to a meeting ahead of our fresh application which we remain confident will be granted given the significant changes being made to accommodate the students who desperately need our specialist provision," he added.

"Given the number of students currently out of school with nowhere else identified we also hope timeframes can be expedited this time around and/or allowances can be made in the first instance to help six students who have a place but cannot access the school due to our driveway.

"We look forward to a resolution soon and continuing to grow Abbot’s Way."

One student who is unable to attend the school full time is Lily, who is 12-years-old.

Somerset County Gazette: SCHOOLING: Lily, who only attends Abbots Way for two days a week

She was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2017, but did not receive enough special educational needs support at primary school.

Earlier this year, she received a diagnosis of irlen syndrome and developmental language disorder. However, Lily had already transferred to a mainstream secondary school but she was unable to cope.

And so, Lily's mum fought and she finally ended up at Abbots Way - a school perfect for her needs - but it was around 30 miles away from her home in Bristol.

Lily only attends Abbots Way two days a week, and she is at home for three days.

Due to her complex needs, she is unable to access any remote learning.

Her mum, Laura Drake, is likely to have to return to the office soon and they will have no one to care for Lily while she is not at school.

"We, as a small group of parents, are in a very desperate situation," she said.

"We have all fought tirelessly through local authority processes to get Abbot's Way school named.

"The children, through no fault of the school or parents, are now being denied their specialist education, unless these agencies work together.

"This is simply unacceptable."

Somerset County Council, who are dealing with planning issues surrounding the site, has said they must consider the 'safety of the pupils, employees and other road users in relation to traffic levels'.

"We understand the concerns of parents and we are working closely with the local planning authority and the school’s planning agents for Abbot’s Way School to try to resolve a number of planning issues," they said.

"These involve essential access requirements with regard to the site’s expansion."

Mendip District Council planning has confirmed they are 'looking into the matter', but they do not have any 'detailed comments' at this stage.

Another child affected by this issue is Toby, who has dyspraxia, language disorder, autism and various other needs.

Toby's mum, Jessica Scott, spent the last 18 months trying to find the perfect school for her child.

He was placed in a large methodist middle school, which did not suit him, and so Jessica went through a tribunal process to get him to the right school.

"We have, just in time, recently won the tribunal process which should be a time to finally breathe a sigh of relief, concentrate on Toby's mental health and my own, which have both suffered through the EHCP process," she said.

"Allowing ourselves to be happy clearly is not sensible, as I am plunged straight into this situation and discover that the planning process is unlikely to be resolved for him to transition into his next school as he has been expecting, at the same time as all children are doing the same.

"The ordeal that the children, parents and school are being made to endure is entirely disproportionate to the supposed problem (a problem which doesn't exist and seems to be invented for the purposes of delaying paying for school placements)."