School row family still waiting for place for boy

Hamid Khaliq pictured with four year old son Amar.
Hamid Khaliq pictured with four year old son Amar.

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy is still without a school three weeks after the start of the new term after he was denied a place at his brother’s school.

Amar Khaliq is currently educated at home by his family while they hope a place becomes available soon.

His parents wanted Amar to join his brother Aadham, seven, at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Primary School, in Hartlepool, where he had attended nursery for 18 months.

But he was denied a place after the Hart Lane school was heavily over-subscribed.

Dad Hamid Khaliq, 38, says his son is now in limbo on waiting lists for three other schools and he will look into getting a private tutor if there is no change soon.

Mr Khaliq claims the admission policies of faith schools are discriminatory against children of other faiths.

But the council says the admission policy complies with national legislation and that it has tried to help Amar find another school.

The family rejected a place offered at another Roman Catholic school because it was almost two miles away from home.

Mr Khaliq, married to Asiya, 32, has bought books to help prevent Amar falling behind.

He said: “He sees his brother going to school every day and asks ‘why can’t I go to school with my brother?’

“It’s heart-breaking for me as a parent to have to go through that.

“We are trying to keep him busy at home, but I’m not a professional teacher.”

Sacred Heart’s top five admissions criteria all relate to children who are Catholic.

Mr Khaliq, a self-employed landlord from Hart Lane, Hartlepool, said: “The majority of people, in fact every single person I’ve spoken to personally, is unaware of the fact that faith schools are actually funded by the general taxpayer and not by the church.

“The fact is 100 per cent of the running costs are paid for by Hartlepool Borough Council and the only contribution made by the church is 10 per cent of capital expenditure.

“Taking this into account, I feel it is only fair that the admissions policy that applies to all the other schools in the town, that is, non faith schools, should also apply to faith schools.”

Although Amar is third on Sacred Heart’s waiting list, the council has confirmed that a child not on the list could be accepted if they met a higher admission criteria than him.

Mr Khaliq added: “Basically, being third on the waiting list counts for nothing as he is not a Catholic.

“I find this wholly wrong and something needs to be done about it.”

He said he had received huge support from Catholics, the wider public and has even been stopped by strangers in supermarkets.

Mr Khaliq accused Hartlepool Borough Council, the local education authority, of not doing enough to help.

A council spokesman said: “As previously stated, we totally refute any suggestion of discrimination.

“The school was heavily over-subscribed for the current year with 129 applications for 60 places and in allocating those places Sacred Heart Primary School rigorously followed its admissions procedure which fully complies with national legislation.

“Mr Khaliq exercised his right of appeal and the appeal was heard by an independent panel.

“Moreover, the Local Government Ombudsman subsequently ruled that this matter has been handled correctly and in accordance with the law.

“The council has tried to assist Mr Khaliq by offering his son a place at an alternative school and also by indicating where vacancies exist in schools elsewhere in the town.”