Lifeline phone pupil suspended

Phone row: April Jones, aged 14, at home in Woodlands, with her mum Mireille Walker.
Phone row: April Jones, aged 14, at home in Woodlands, with her mum Mireille Walker.

A POORLY Doncaster mum claims her carer daughter is being suspended from school - for refusing to give up a family lifeline.

Teenager April Jones was suspended twice from Outwood Academy in Adwick last week for insisting on keeping her mobile phone switched on in school so she could respond if mum Mireille Walker needed her urgently.

Mireille, aged 42, of Welfare Road, Woodlands, is currently undergoing tests to find out the cause of a suspected neurological condition which affects her balance. She has suffered falls as a result of the condition.

Her husband, Simon, works away from Doncaster four days a week. April, aged 14, is closest to her mum in terms of geography during the day for any emergency.

Her mum says she had told the school of the situation - but it is still taking action over the phone because it is against school rules to have them in the classroom.

April is not registered as a carer because her mum’s illness has still not yet been diagnosed. Mireille has had scans to try to find out what it is and says she has had the problem for the last six months.

She has in past had to be taken to hospital after plunging down the stairs.

Mireille said: “The school is aware of our circumstances. April has the phone in case I need to get in touch with her. She puts it on silent ring so if I call her they won’t hear it ring.

“I tried to call her this week. When she called back they tried to confiscate the phone. She said she needed it in case I needed her.

“If I fell at home and tried to contact her at school through their switchboard, I don’t know how long it would take.

“They insist it is school policy.

“I would sooner be a mum, like everyone else, who doesn’t need their daughter’s help. It upsets me that I have to lean on her like this.

“But if I need my daughter, I need here there and then. I need to know I’m getting through to her and not taking a chance on a message.

“She is not using the phone for other calls and they will not hear it. I feel we are being let down as a family.”

She said the school had complained that April was being belligerent, and was persistently breaking the rules.

She admitted the family had previously had run-ins with the school over issues including earrings, shoes and hair.

But she said those had been sorted out amicably.

Academy principal Anne Seneviratne said the school would not comment on individual cases.