The mother of an eight-year-old girl who hasn’t been to school for 18 months says her daughter cannot attend school in Monmouthshire due to the lack of a child-friendly disabled toilet.

Imogen Ashwell-Lewis left Rogiet Primary School – the only school in Monmouthshire with a children’s disabled toilet – in June 2018, after her mother, Catherine Ashwell-Rice, 42, said she hadn’t been invited to attend teacher and parent consultations.

She also alleged that the school continued to use apps for homework after Ms Ashwell-Rice told the school Imogen couldn’t use the apps due to her condition affecting the use of her hands.

Rogiet Primary School was contacted for comment but is yet to respond.

Over 18 months after leaving the school, Ms Ashwell-Rice expressed her disbelief at how long her daughter has spent outside of mainstream education due to her disability not allowing her to use a normal toilet.

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(Imogen and her mother Catherine)

“It’s so frustrating for her because she is a really articulate and clever child,” Ms Ashwell-Rice said. “It’s not just about learning – it’s about the friends you make and the social skills you learn too. She hasn’t had the option to lead anything like a normal little girl’s life. She’s not been invited to a birthday party for 18 months.”

Imogen, who lives with her mother and seven brothers in Caldicot, requires a specialist chair, a suitably high toilet so she can easily access it from her wheelchair, and a changing area with a bed.

Over the last year and a half Ms Ashwell-Rice says she has looked at every primary school in the county, and has tried to enrol Imogen at Kymin View Primary School in Monmouth.

Ms Ashwell-Rice said: “We thought Imogen was going to Kymin View around December 2018, but when we arrived for a site visit not long before Imogen was about to join, we realised no work had been done on the disabled toilet.”

Kymin View has also been contacted for comment but is yet to respond.

Ms Ashwell-Rice says she thought Imogen was close to joining Glan Llyn Primary School after the Christmas holidays, but has been told that work by building contractors on the disabled toilet is unlikely to be carried out in time.

“Glan Llyn is a brand-new school that started in September, and we found it lovely when we visited back then,” said Ms Ashwell-Rice. “We were told the work would be done as soon as possible, but I’ve not been updated on when that will be done by.”

She believes the work is likely to be done by February half-term, which Glan Llyn Primary School is yet to confirm.

With eight children including Imogen, Ms Ashwell-Rice says the financial impact of the events over the last 18 months have made life a struggle.

She added: “Imogen is tutored at home for three hours a day and four days a week, which is funded by the council. But I can’t afford to continue buying learning materials to get Imogen through her education. Then there are things like violin lessons and tennis lessons that Imogen should have the opportunity to do at school for free. I have to pay for her to do it outside of school. It all builds up.”

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She also said that a lack of a normal education has taken its toll on Imogen’s mindset, saying: “She is petrified to go back to school now because she has been away for so long, and her anxiety has become much worse. I can’t even leave her in the car while I stand outside and fill it with petrol before she becomes agitated. I feel like we’ve been completely failed.”

The impact that no school has had on Imogen is not lost on her brothers either, who now try to avoid speaking in an overly positive way about their day in front of their sister.

Ms Ashwell-Rice added: “It just doesn’t seem fair that my son, who is also in primary school, can’t come home and share his day with us in the way he would like.

“For this all to have come about due to something completely out of Imogen’s control is upsetting for all of us.”

A formal complaint has been submitted by Ms Ashwell-Rice to Monmouthshire County Council, and the council has also been contacted for comment.