Parents put in 'impossible' position over school placesBy Jon Nurse
April 30, 2012
Angry parents are facing a “physically impossible” school run after dozens of children were not granted a place at their older sibling’s school.
Wokingham Borough Council has been criticised for its admissions policy after 54 children in the borough were not assigned the same school as their sibling.
As a result, some parents will need to get children to two or more different schools at the same time.
Sarah Croft, of Springfield Park, Twyford, will have to take her boys to three different locations from September.
She said: “This is a total farce. We’ve been handed an impossible situation. It’s just not physically possible.
“We thought with siblings in the school they should get in but it hasn’t happened. These schools aren’t even near each other.”
Her eldest son Joseph, six, is a pupil at Polehampton CE Infant School in Hermitage Drive, Twyford.
Her second child Thomas, four, is at Polehampton’s Pre-School but has not been offered a place at the infants.
Instead the council has given him a place at Robert Piggott CE Infant School in Wargrave, which is more than two miles away.
Mrs Croft said: “We can almost see Polehampton from our house but we’re not officially in catchment.
“The catchment goes down as far as Charvil, so people who have to travel over a mile get a place and then I don’t.”
Two-year-old Matthew will join Polehampton Pre-School this September, leaving Mrs Croft with the prospect of having to take the boys to three different sites every morning.
The council’s allocation criteria prioritises children living in the catchment area of schools over siblings living outside of it.
Morag Cuddeford-Jones, of Station Road, Twyford, also has a boy at Polehampton Junior School and her younger son has not been offered a place at the school.
He must instead attend Colleton Primary School in Colleton Drive.
“It’s just ridiculous,” she said. “We moved closer to the school thinking we were in the catchment. We only live a three-minute walk from the school.”
The mum must now work out how to take the boys to two schools more than a mile apart that start at the same time without a car.
Jessica Dean, of Waltham Road, Twyford, has three children who will be at different schools next year.
She said: “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do the school run. It’s hard enough already for a four-year-old starting school.”
Councillor Rob Stanton, executive member for education services, said: “Siblings are one of the top priorities and these parents have the right to appeal. I think it’s right that children living in the catchment area should get priority.
“Appeals work outside the council community, so if the circumstances are unfair or unsustainable they have the power to make a change.”
This year the council has placed more young children at schools than ever, with 2,082 children allocated places – 145 more than 2011.
New classrooms are being added at Colleton Primary School in Twyford, Winnersh Primary School and Hawkedon Primary School in Lower Earley to cater for growing pupil numbers.
There are also temporary units at Lambs Lane and Shinfield Infant schools in Shinfield.