Wrexham u-turn on schooling

Wrexham social services department has finally given the
go-ahead for a teenager in its care to attend a private boarding
school to study drama.

The about-turn by the local authority came after mounting
criticism of its refusal to let aspiring actress Suzanne Turley,
16, who is in foster care, take up the offer of a place at
Gordonstoun, Prince Charles’ old school in Scotland.

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Peter Clarke, had been
prepared to intervene on Suzanne’s behalf and, in a separate move,
lawyers in Cardiff were preparing to take up the case and if
necessary ask for a judicial review of the decision.

Suzanne was first told by the local authority that the reason
she could not go to the school of her choice was that there was
adequate educational provision at a local sixth-form college.

It also said that the network of care open to her in Wrexham
might not be available in Scotland. The teenager, who had the
support of her foster parents and relatives, said she had been
shattered by the decision after passing the entrance examination
and being offered a place at what is regarded as one of the elite
centres for drama and the performing arts.

The £18,000-a-year fees were to be paid partly by a trust
fund provided by Gordonstoun and partly by Suzanne’s grandparents,
who said they were prepared to give up their savings.

Angela Harkness, development director at Gordonstoun, told
Community Care that an anonymous donor had since come
forward with an offer to pay the fees. “We were very disappointed
that Wrexham social services did not talk to us through all this,”
said Harkness. “We have a member of staff who is a trained foster
carer and she is willing to foster Suzanne. We also have a staff
member who regularly travels to Wales and who is willing to take
Suzanne back to Wrexham in the holidays so that she can see friends
and family.”

In a statement, Malcolm Russell, director of personal services
in Wrexham, said that social services had listened carefully to
Suzanne’s views and those of her relatives.

He added: “We have agreed to her placement at Gordonstoun,
provided that a number of appropriate safeguards can be put in

“We will be discussing these with Suzanne, the school and her
relatives over the next few days.”

Russell said: “As Suzanne is still a young person who is looked
after by Wrexham Borough Council we ask that she is now given space
to continue with her life.”

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.