A retired teaching couple are being forced to take a young Ukrainian refugee with a spinal condition to and from school after a battle with Wiltshire Council.

Former teachers Martin and Jenny Gailey now have to drive nine-year-old Ivan to Staverton Primary School 1.8 miles from their home in St Thomas Road, Trowbridge.

They decided to accept a place at Staverton after their first choice Bellefield Primary School said it had no place available.

The council also said ‘no’ to a place at full up Paxcroft Primary even though the school said it would take him.

Mr Gailey, 58, and his wife, Jenny, 63, had offered to accommodate a vulnerable Ukrainian refugee, Maryan and her young son, following the Russian invasion.

The youngster had not been to school since February and had been doing his lessons online despite regular bombing by Russian forces before coming to the UK.

But Mr Gailey said the refugees have been treated “appallingly” by the council, which had refused to bend its rules on school admissions to offer Ivan a place at Bellefield.

He says the couple just wanted to support the single mum and Ivan through some very traumatic times after they had fled from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We sought to secure a primary school place as soon as possible to avoid him missing any more school than was necessary,” Mr Gailey said.

In the end, the couple decided to send Ivan to Staverton and drive him to school and back rather than appeal the council’s decision and delay his education.

Mr Gailey added: “It is not what I would have hoped for or expected from Wiltshire Council. It’s like walking through treacle with a rucksack.

“I can’t lodge an appeal – even though we would have excellent grounds and in all reality win a totally unnecessary and expensive action – because we do not want to have any more delay.

“He is a bright, enthusiastic and loving child who is so looking forward to going to school.”

Cllr Laura Mayes, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills said: “Our schools admission teams have been busy working to ensure our Ukraine guests can have school places and so far we’ve offered 178 places to Ukrainian children, 156 of these were at the first preference school, 12 more were at the second preference school.

“Where schools are full we do try and offer a place at one of the preferences. When a preference is further away we will suggest considering other schools which are more local and then it is up to the person applying if they take those schools closer or remain with their other preference.

"We have attended regular sessions with the DfE and other local authorities and the advice is clear that we should only be asking schools to admit over their limit where there is no reasonable alternative.”