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Mum of girl with serious allergies fights for school place

ALLERGIES: Destiny Braithwaite-Dalby, 11, suffers a serious reaction to nuts and fish

A MOTHER whose 11-year-old daughter’s life-threatening allergies caused her to be homeschooled is now campaigning to get her back into a regular school for the start of the new term.

Paula Braithwaite-Dalby and Steve Dalby, of Chigwell, Essex, withdrew their child from private school in 2009 over concerns about the lack of appropriate measures to deal with their child’s potentially fatal condition, known as anaphylaxis.

PROGRESSED

Destiny was diagnosed at the age of 3, but as the years progressed so did the severity of her condition, to the extent of experiencing an acute reaction even if someone who had eaten fish or nuts touched her.

For the past three-and-a-half years, Destiny has been homeschooled by teachers who are friends of her mother’s. Braithwaite-Dalby said: “We were told by an allergy specialist that every school in the UK should have a protocol and give you information (about) who has been trained [to deliver treatment].

But according to the concerned mother, “They were unable to provide us with that information…so we weren’t able to keep her in the school.”

However, the decision to pursue homeschooling did not stop the bright pupil from excelling in her education.

At the age of nine, she achieved a GCSE maths, received a distinction for her spoken English exams and is currently learning grade six on the piano – a level well above her age.

As she is approaching the start of her secondary education, her parents now want to find a school that can continue to nurture her academic ability and cater for her allergies, but they have no faith in mainstream schools.

They have applied to three private schools, but have been unsuccessful.

Braithwaite-Dalby said: “Destiny has an educational psychology report that places her in the top two per cent of children in maths in the country and top four cent in English. And yet, we are sitting at home with our daughter.

“We would like Destiny to attend an independent school keeping in line with the education she has already had but we have been very unlucky.”


TALENTED: The bright student poses with her awards

The concerned mum has been going door-to-door in her community asking for signatures of support. She told The Voice that the plan is to present it to the prime minister, the Department for Education and the Department for Health.

Braithwaite-Dalby has also contacted her local MP Eleanor Laing, who represents Epping Forest, for a letter of support but said she was unhelpful.

When The Voice spoke to the Conservative politician, Laing explained that she was aware of the situation and had suggested that Destiny get enrolled in a state school since she had no authority over private institutions.

Destiny said: “I want to go back to school. I am happy that I have been able to keep up with the subjects I would be doing at school so I won’t be behind when I go back.”

The articulate young pupil has since dedicated her time to raising awareness of serious allergies. Just last month she won an award for the most inspirational campaign from the youth think tank, Kidz Count.

In 2009, she was among a group of 50 young people invited to talk to Parliament at an event hosted by the National Allergy Strategy Group.

The family has since put in an admission for an amendment to the Children and Families Bill to get children with allergies the care they need.

They are asking for all schools and education providers to be trained and be responsible for providing medication to allergy sufferers, particularly if they go into shock.

This bill is currently at the House of Lords and is expected to be debated again in September.

Braithwaite-Dalby said: “This would mean every child in the UK will have access to their medication during the school day, many children currently don’t so it is absolutely brilliant.”

Destiny added: “It will make me feel secure when I do go back to school in case anything happened to me.”

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