Newark mum-of-two left in despair as she faces having to send her sons to different schools
A mother-of-two has been left in despair as she faces having to send her sons to different schools, writes Elliot Ball.
It is the second time Shell Smith, of Newark, has been denied a place for her children at the school of her choice.
This time, she has been turned down for a place at a school already attended by her other son.
“It’s unbelievable — I think that’s probably the best word to use to describe it,” she said.
“I never expected that my second child wouldn’t get his first choice of secondary school because his older brother was in the school.”
Two years ago Shell applied for her son to attend Samworth Church Academy, Mansfield, after finishing at Winthorpe Primary.
To the family’s dismay, they were declined places at their top three schools and instead offered a place at the Queen Elizabeth Academy, also in Mansfield.
Luckily, Shell was able to get her son Dylan, who is now 13, a place at Minster School, Southwell, instead.
But when she applied for a place at Minster School for Nathan, 11, she was again denied.
“When it came to applying for schools for Nathan we wanted to send him to Southwell Minster as well,” Shell said.
“You want your children at the same school so when I opened up the email on March 1 which said he had been offered a place at Magnus Church of England Academy I was like ‘oh my God, here we go again’.
“We hadn’t even put Magnus down on the application form.
“I have to be honest, it did not even cross my mind that this could happen again and I was literally speechless.
“My second thought was how on earth am I going to tell Nathan because he’s already been looking at what school clubs he wanted to do.
“I know it’s not the school’s fault but surely common sense would mean that both boys end up in the same school.”
Last time, the family lost their appeal against the awarding of the school place, and Shell said she was concerned again.
She said: “I still haven’t sent off the appeal because I don’t know how to approach it because we failed the appeal last time and this time I need to win it because Nathan needs to go to that school.
“I have no back-up plan. He just has to go to that school.
“For us, we have one small bonus as we are moving within five miles of the school and we are hoping that will help in our appeal.”
“But if we’d known we wouldn’t get a place there’s no way we would have bought this house.
“We just assumed that because one child was in the school the other would also be given a place.”
Nathan’ mother said that although he had tried to get on with his school work she could tell he was under immense stress, which had been caused by not knowing which school he would be attending from September.
She said: “Nathan was all right for the first week but as soon as he went back to school and all his friends were talking about which schools they were going to I could tell his stressed and upset by it.
“He’s just wanting to go to the same school as his brother and some of his football friends, surely that should be a given.
“I’ve declined the place which was offered to Nathan so he now has no school to go to because I do not want him to go to that school because he needs to be at a school with his brother.”
If the appeal fails, Shell may had to consider moving Dylan from Minster School.
She said: “I don’t want to have to move Dylan from Minster. He loves that school and he’s been there two years.
“But I can’t physically manage two children in two different schools.”
Phillip Owen, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, said 90.1% of Nottinghamshire children were offered their parents’ first preference secondary academy for this September and 96.9% were offered one of their preferred academies.
He said: “In the Newark district, 89.4% were allocated their first preference with 96.8% being offered one of their four preferences.
“All schools in the Newark district are academies and are responsible for their own admissions and ranking applications in accordance with their published admission criteria.
“Before applying, parents are advised to check the admission over-subscription criteria for their preferred schools, and include at least one school within their four preferences where their child will have high priority within the admission over-subscription criteria.
“The School Admissions Code 2014 prohibits admission authorities giving any guarantee that a place will be allocated at any school. Where parents have been refused a place at any of their preferred schools, they have the right to appeal and are encouraged to do so.”