Dagenham disabled girl delayed from starting secondary school

Maria Dinu with her parents, Marius and Camaria Dinu

Maria Dinu with her parents, Marius and Camaria Dinu - Credit: Archant

A disabled girl is still unable to start secondary school, halfway through the first term.

Maria Dinu, of Valence Avenue, Dagenham, was supposed to join Sydney Russell school in September but the council is yet to get hold of the equipment it needs to assist her.

The 11-year-old, who has spina bifida, a condition where the spine does not develop properly, says she feels let down.

“I’ve been waiting since the beginning of term to start school,” Maria, who has no feeling in her legs, explained.

“It’s really frustrating as just because I’m in a wheelchair it’s getting in the way of me being able to have an education.”

She has yet to be given an offical start date and, in the interim, Maria is having to make do with just two days a week of homeschooling.

Her uncle, Viorel Marcu, said his niece is “devastated” about missing out.

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“She’s so upset and she’s crying at home – she wants to go to school,” he said. “The council and schools are pushing her around and she has enough problems with her health. It seems like no one cares for her.”

Maria was initially told that she would be joining Robert Clack but in September she was informed that the Green Lane secondary wasn’t equipped with the special facilities needed to cater for her disability.

Maria then rejected a place at Eastbury School before eventually securing a spot at Sydney Russell.

But she was told that she would have to wait for the Parsloes Avenue school to receive specialist equipment.

A spokesman for the council said Maria is currently receiving home tuition. He said the council is working closely with the school and the occupational therapy service to ensure that the school environment meets her needs and what is required to accommodate her equipment.

“An occupational therapist will visit the school next week to undertake an assessment,” he added.

“We are doing all we can to speed up the process for her to get into school and will increase the hours for her homeschooling in the interim.”