Lancashire families left reeling over school places

Photo Neil Cross'New Longton All Saints CE Primary School
Photo Neil Cross'New Longton All Saints CE Primary School
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Families are in turmoil after their children failed to get into a school of their preference.

More than 13,500 youngsters have received primary school place offers this year, the majority, 88 per cent, at their first choice and nearly eight per cent will go to schools which were their second or third preference.

But one school, All Saints CE Primary in New Longton, near Preston, was so heavily over subscribed it received 100 applications for just 30 places in September.

Among those turned away were brothers and sisters of pupils already at the Hugh Barn Lane school.

Siblings are not a top priority on the school admissions policy, which has left families reeling, including one mum who faces moving her son with learning difficulties to his third school in as many years.

Mum Rachel Watson, who lives in Hutton, within the school catchment area, said: “My eldest son is currently in year four and has only been at New Longton school since the start of year three because we had to move schools as I had educational issues with his previous school. He has been assessed as having a specific learning difficulty, He is happy and growing with confidence.

“We also attend church on a weekly basis at New Longton All Saints. The boys were Christened there and go to Sunday school yet my younger son has been allocated a place at Little Hoole School.

“I can’t get them to different schools so will have to move the older one.”

Dad of two Mark Stanbury said he is seething over the allocation system which has left his youngest daughter Isabella with a place at Longton Primary while sister Holly is in year two at All Saints.

“He now faces having to either appeal to get Holly into Longton, because the class for her age group there is currently full, hope enough people drop out to get Isabella into the New Longton school, or juggle separate schools in separate villages.

Mark, who also lives in Hutton, added: “It is a horrendous situation. How on earth do we get one child to one school and go to the other direction at the same time? It is just not viable. I think it is a ridiculous situation where siblings, or living in the parish, are not a priority. This is ripping families apart- far from building family values.”

He added; “Longton is nice but it is not a church school and we wanted our children to have a church education. Also the schools have different holidays which will only add to the stress so we have no choice but to remove Holly from her friends so they can go to the same school - but we will have to appeal to get in there.

“It is a ridiculous situation, which is already causing stress and anxiety for my elder daughter because she is going to have to move schools. I know we can appeal, but that doesn’t resolve the injustice and I would feel totally wrong if I got in and someone with Rachel Watson’s situation didn’t.”

Headteacher at All Saints CE School Nicola Gomersall said: “I am extremely sympathetic to families in this situation and understand the difficulties it presents.

“We are an outstanding school which is extremely popular and we were heavily oversubscribed this year having 100 applications (45 of whom chose New Longton as their first preference) for 30 places. By law we can only accept 30 children in a class and in circumstances where we have more than this we apply the criteria defined in our admissions policy.

“There is an independent appeals process for parents which we would encourage anyone who is not satisfied with the outcome of the process to follow.”

A Diocesan Board of Education spokesman said: “The criteria for entry to this popular school were set locally.

“We are limited in what we can do at Diocese level and cannot change the decisions made for this year; but we would encourage any parents who are not satisfied with the outcome to pursue the independent appeals policy.”