Disabled Bedford mum says they've been threatened with legal action for refusing to send son to school until she and her husband are fully vaccinated

"We have never been a family to take the kids out of school. This doesn't warrant this treatment"

Friday, 28th May 2021, 10:18 am

A couple in Marston Moretaine have been threatened with legal action for refusing to send their son to school until they are both fully vaccinated.

Heidi and Michael Packwood decided to keep all their children off school in an effort to safeguard their vulnerable family from the virus, especially in light of the growing threat from the Indian variant in Bedford.

Mum Heidi said: "Myself and two of our three children are registered with disabilities, two of us who fall within the ‘extremely vulnerable category’, and my husband cares for me full time.

Marston Vale Middle School

"It had been intended that we were to receive our vaccines during the first rollout, which would have meant the children would already be back in school. But due to a delay by the Government identifying our medical circumstances, we did not receive our initial letter until February."

The couple's second vaccine wasn't until this month so the Packwoods made the decision to homeschool their children until they could safely return - which would be June 7 after the half-term break.

Heidi said: "Our eldest daughter attends a college in Hertfordshire, and they have been actively working with us in the interests of her education and continue to be fully supportive until her return in June.

"Our second daughter attends a secondary school in Central Bedfordshire, they too have actively been working with us in the interests of her education and continue to be fully supportive until her return.

"But, Marston Vale Middle School under Bedford Borough Council where our son Harry attends, stopped any online or remote learning from the beginning of April. It feels like we are being forced into a corner until we agree to send our son back into school, and to take the risk of exposing our family."

Earlier this month the family were warned by a council officer that they could be prosecuted if they kept Harry at home.

"It's been awful. It turns your stomach the threat of going to court. We have never been a family to take the kids out of school. This doesn't warrant this treatment. They are creating a problem that doesn't need to be there."

A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson said, “We can confirm we have received a complaint but cannot comment further while an investigation is ongoing. When we receive a complaint we will to work with schools and parents to find a satisfactory solution.”

Estelle Jennings, headteacher at Marston Vale Middle School which is part of The Chiltern Learning Trust, said: “The health and well-being of our students and staff remain our foremost priority and we have worked very hard as a team to ensure Marston Vale Middle School is a safe learning environment in line with the Government guidelines on the return of face to face teaching.

“We fully understand that for many families there is a nervousness about the return to school. We have been proactive in inviting discussion on personal circumstances, anxieties and concerns and on the comprehensive safety measures we have in school, however, we have to work with the Government guidelines.

“We have been in close communication with families alongside Bedford Borough Council where necessary, to discuss the specific concerns and circumstances and to explore how we can best support pupils returning to school.”