Anger as chaos over places splits families

By Kevin Unitt 27/04 Updated: 27/04 08:09

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Buy photos » Concerns over school places - mums Juliette Ledsham with daughter Amilia, Laura Broome with Alfie and Hayley Hindle with sons Sam and Rowan. 17.012.037.leam.jm1 (www.buyphotos247.com)

PARENTS have expressed “deep distress and upset” over the provision of school places which could see many of their young siblings split up.

A number of families have been affected across primary schools such as Coten End in Warwick, Telford and St Paul's in Leamington and Ferncumbe in Hatton, each facing having to send their children to different schools from September because siblings cannot get a place at the school of their older brother or sister.

In one case a mother of six young children has two already at Coten End but a third has been refused a place, meaning she faces the logistical nightmare of having to take and collect her children from two different schools as well as looking after her three other pre-school children.

Hayley Hindle, one of a group of affected mums who have launched a Facebook campaign, told the Observer: “It's an unprecedented situation that we have not been consulted on and which has taken us completely by surprise and caused deep distress and upset.

“I've had mums sobbing to me down the phone and at the school gate, distraught their children are going to be split up.

“We believe siblings of families who live out of catchment of a school, sometimes by only a house or two, are unfairly abandoned when a school is oversubscribed and forced into schools they don't want to go to.

“Ironically just two years ago, when my own eldest son started school, these now popular schools actively welcomed our 'out of catchment' children because they were under-subscribed.

“The local education authority need to take action urgently. The system is seemingly in crisis.”

Warwickshire County Council, which oversees schools in the area, said when there were more applicants than available places at particular schools an 'oversubscription criteria' was assigned to each applicant. It means priority is given to those living in a catchment area with a sibling already at that school, followed by other children in the area, after which any remaining places do to children out of the catchment area but with siblings at that school.

A spokesperson explained: “The aim of these arrangements is to ensure that, wherever possible, children living in the school's priority area are offered a place, and to ensure that where a sibling attends the school that this is taken into account, but this cannot be guaranteed.

“For the schools in question every effort has been made to accommodate children from within the local area. Unfortunately, not all in area applicants could be accommodated at Coten End or Telford.

“Legislation limits the number of children in a class to 30 per qualified teacher and we must take this into account when offering places.

“The local authority make every effort to ensure that sufficient school places are available and this includes the expansion of schools where considered appropriate.”

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