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Arthritis teenager battles for education

PUBLISHED: 15:23 05 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 30 June 2010

AT the age of 11, she was an award-winning, grade-A pupil with few cares in the world and a wide circle of friends.

Then, shortly after her 12th birthday, her life changed when she was diagnosed with a range of rare illnesses that means she now has to take 150 pills a week just to stay out of hospital.

AT the age of 11, she was an award-winning, grade-A pupil with few cares in the world and a wide circle of friends.

Then, shortly after her 12th birthday, her life changed when she was diagnosed with a range of rare illnesses that means she now has to take 150 pills a week just to stay out of hospital.

Summer Cribb's horizons have shrunk to the four walls of the home she shares with mother Marie and brother Bobby, 12, in Nottingham Way, Great Yarmouth. She has had a string of operations and frequent attacks that leave her in agony.

Having been diagnosed with erosive arthritis, complicated by mastocytosis, and spent an average of three days a week in hospital, 15-year-old Summer is in a state of constant pain.

And her family say they have reached breaking point in the struggle to make sure she receives the education she deserves. However, Summer is determined to keep up her high levels of achievement.

Mrs Cribb said: “She started getting the illness when she was at Greenacre Middle School, and they were great with her, but ever since she has had to study at home; we've really struggled to get her the attention that she needs.”

As well as battling to secure a home tutor, she and Summer's grandmother, Joyce, have fought to get access to e-learning, an online learning programme.

Well-wishers raised funds for a laptop computer, help-ing her to work at home. But, though this gave Summer computer access, her mum eventually could not afford the internet connection.

Summer said she was deeply upset by the attitude towards her learning and sad that she had not had more help from Yarmouth High School, where she would ordinarily be a pupil. She said: “All my friends are going on to do their GCSEs, and I don't know what is going to happen about that.”

Even so, she remains posi-tive. “In the future, I want to be a children's arthritic nurse or a doctor,” she said.

Carole Galloway, deputy head at Yarmouth High, said: “Summer has been too unwell to attend school almost since she joined in 2007, and we have endeavoured to provide educational support at home. As a result of Summer's very specific needs mobile access to

e-learning has been provided, including support with technical difficulties.

“Our priority has always been to try to develop a pack-age of learning that best meets Summer's needs, and we recognise the difficulties faced by her and her family. We believe e-learning offers the most flexible solution as Summer can access it when she is able and the work can fit around her medical needs.”

The school is ordering a lap-top for her and has agreed to fund the internet connection.


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