School refusal angers mum

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A MUM is facing a one-and-a-half mile dash twice a day to drop off and collect her children from school after her son was denied a place in the same primary as his sister.

Little Ben Fawcett lost out on a place at Throston Primary School, even though he already goes to the nursery and his sister, Alithea, six, is a Year 1 pupil.

His furious mum, who has no access to a car, is now facing an impossible task of getting them to and from school at the same time each day.

She will be forced to take one of her two children into school 30 minutes late and pick them up 30 minutes early every day in order to complete the school run on foot.

The full-time mum who is married to Ben, 32, a graphic designer, said: “I can’t be in two places at once.

“By the time I get from one school to another, one of the kids is going to be half an hour late and I am going to have to pick one of them up half an hour early on an afternoon.

“It will have a dire effect on their education and will probably be disruptive to the rest of the class, but what else can I do?”

Two months ago Hartlepool Borough Council passed a proposal to change the primary school’s admission policy giving priority to siblings - which would come into force next year.

But it is no comfort to Emma who has blasted Hartlepool Borough Council’s admission system which she says allows youngsters into Throston Primary School who live further away from the school than them.

Emma, who doesn’t drive, currently walks her two children three quarters of a mile from their home in Howbeck Lane to Throston Primary School, in Flint Walk.

But from September the full-time mum who is married to graphic designer Ben, 32, will have to make the trip to Throston before a further one-and-a-half mile walk from Throston Primary School to Jesmond Gardens Primary School, in Jesmond Gardens and then another quarter of a mile back home.

Emma says she can’t afford to send Alithea to a breakfast club costing £1.75 per day or an after-school club costing £4 a day at Throston Primary School and says her only other option would be to leave one of her children in the school playground alone for 30 minutes before the school bell goes - which she obviously isn’t going to do.

“If I left my children at home alone for any period of time I would quite rightly be deemed an unfit mother and I would be breaking the law and this would be exactly the same if I left them in a school yard alone so that I can get my other child to school on time,” added Emma.

“I would never do this, so therefore one of my children will have to be late on a morning and picked up early on an afternoon every day.”

Hartlepool Borough Council said the family live outside of the catchment area for Throston Primary School and revealed there was 123 applications for just 60 places at the school this year.

Fifty nine of those were allocated to the children who live in the catchment area and the other one was given to a child who has brothers or sisters in the school and lives outside of the catchment area but nearest to the school.

Emma acknowledged that the family home is outside of the catchment area, but said she believes the high amount of applicants for Throston Primary School is due to the amount of houses which have been built at Bishop Cuthbert.

She said areas in the estate, such as the top of Merlin Way, are further away from the school than their home but are still in the catchment area.

She added: “So many new houses have been built on the Bishop Cuthbert estate without taking into consideration the strain this would have on the local school.

“My daughter was given a place before all of this new housing had this effect.”

Emma has appealed against the decision but added: “I have very little chance, if any, of winning my appeal due to class size prejudice and I have just learned that even with having sibling link in our favour, Ben is still third in the waiting list queue.

“The staff at Throston have been fantastic and they are helping us all this possibly can but this is out of their hands.

“I haven’t had anything to do with Jesmond Gardens in the past and I have nothing against them.

“My point is that I feel it is totally unacceptable for my family to be split.”