Angry Hartlepool family launch Facebook campaign after school places snub

DISAPPOINTED: Some of the families who haven't been allocated their first, second or third-choice primary school place.
DISAPPOINTED: Some of the families who haven't been allocated their first, second or third-choice primary school place.

A FAMILY has launched a campaign in protest over their four-year-old twins being placed in a school at the other side of town after being refused places in their three favoured choices.

Self-employed driver Leon Charteris, 34, and his sales assistant wife Sarah, 32, say their four-year-old twins Oliver and Amira have been given a school place 3.4 miles from their home.

CAMPAIGN: Leon and Sarah Charteris with their children Olivia, Amira and Max.

CAMPAIGN: Leon and Sarah Charteris with their children Olivia, Amira and Max.

And as a result they have been prompted to launch the Facebook page, Local Schools for Local Children, along with other parents, and have set up a paper and online petition, which has already collected 700 signatures.

The couple are among a string of affected families who have joined the campaign.

A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said almost 92 per cent of parents have been allocated their first choice primary school places – one of the highest levels in the country.

They say they are looking into ways of increasing capacity for children who have been given places outside of their top three choices.

It’s terrible that we haven’t even been given one of our three choices, we’ve just had a school chosen for us, which isn’t easily accessible for us at all.

Sarah Charteris

But this was little comfort to Sarah, who said: “It’s terrible that we haven’t even been given one of our three choices, we’ve just had a school chosen for us, which isn’t easily accessible for us at all.

“This is why we’ve set up the Facebook page and started a petition, and everyone seems to agree that children should go to a school near to where they live.”

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The couple, of Dowson Road, Hartlepool, are parents to two-year-old Max, as well as the twins.

The twins go to Barnard Grove Primary School’s nursery, which is a 10 -minute walk from their home, and the family hoped they would have been able to carry on their primary education there.

Their second and third choices were Clavering and Throston primary schools.

But they were shocked to learn that the siblings had been given places at Ward Jackson Primary, in Clark Street, which is 3.4 miles away from where they live.

Leon is the only driver in the family, who have no support due to death and illness of grandparents, and he was hoping to go back to work when the twins start school, and when Max starts nursery in September.

This means Sarah will have to get a bus across town to take the twins and Max to school and nursery, and then a bus back home.

She will then have to take another bus journey to pick Max up at lunchtime, and return home, and do the same again when the twins need picking up at home time.

“It’s going to be hell,” said Sarah.

“Basically it’s just not possible every single day, and it will mean that one of us won’t be able to go to work.

“There are several other schools closer to us, but we have been given this one, which wasn’t even one of our choices.”