Norfolk

Dead children were sent Norfolk council school admissions letter

Susie Thorndyke with her baby son James Image copyright Susie Thorndyke
Image caption Susie Thorndyke received a letter for her son James, who died before his first birthday

A council has apologised for asking 41 families to enrol their dead children for primary school places.

Norfolk County Council said the families were sent the letters by its schools admission team for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Bereaved parent Lizzy Jones, who received one of the letters, described it as "offensive and disrespectful".

The council spokesman said an internal audit investigation had been launched, as the Eastern Daily Press reported.

The authority said it would personally write to each of the families involved to apologise for the "admin error".

Image caption The letter reminds parents to apply for a reception class place for September 2020

Susie Thorndyke, 36, whose son James died of severe combined immunodeficiency before his first birthday, said the council was "twisting the knife".

"As soon as I saw his name on the envelope, I couldn't believe it," said Ms Thorndyke who lives in Forncett St Mary, Norfolk.

"This is the council we had to go to to register his death.

"To me it was like, 'we know your son's dead, but this is a little reminder that he'll never get to start school'. That's how it felt."

Image copyright Susie Thorndyke
Image caption James died before his first birthday

Lizzy Jones, from Rockland St Mary, near Norwich, said she was in shock when she opened the admissions letter for her son Kai, who died of a chronic lung condition in April 2016.

"I feel hurt, let down; it's just with grief, that can tip somebody over the edge," the 28-year-old said. "This is a hard month for me because it's his birthday."

Image copyright Lizzy Jones
Image caption Lizzy Jones's baby Kai died of a chronic lung condition in 2016
Image copyright Lizzy Jones
Image caption Ms Jones has named her daughter Willow Kaiah after her late son

The leader of Norfolk County Council, Andrew Proctor, said the authority was "truly sorry for the pain and distress caused".

"At the moment, our priority is contacting the families concerned so we can apologise to them directly," he said.

In August last year, more than 100 families in Manchester received a similar letter for children who had passed away.

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