Darlington mother's frustration after girls placed at different schools (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Darlington mother's frustration after girls placed at different schools
A MOTHER of two girls has spoken of her frustration after one of them was given a place at a school five minutes’ walk away while the other faces a two-mile round trip.
Seven-year-old Ellie-May Whitmore faces a thirty minute walk to and from her home in Darlington’s Skerne Park to The Rydal Academy, while her four-year-old sister, Katie-Scarlet, has been offered a place at Skerne Park Academy, just five minutes away from their home and is due to start reception class in September.
After recently moving to the estate, their mother, 25-year-old Kelly Whitmore, wanted to move Ellie-May and have both girls attend the nearby Skerne Park Academy as she cannot drive and has no family living in Darlington to help take her children to school.
She applied to move Ellie-May but was told the year three class was already full. Ms Whitmore appealed against the decision made by an independent panel, but last week learnt her appeal had been rejected.
Darlington Borough Council has offered the family alternative solutions and said the independent panel that heard Ms Whitmore’s appeal follows national criteria and has to consider both sides of the situation when making their decision.
But Ms Whitmore says she is desperate to get a place for both her children at Skerne Park Academy, as she faces logistical problems in getting the pair to school on time.
“It takes us 30 minutes to walk to school because of her little legs and we walk everyday in all weathers, but in the winter it obviously takes us longer,” she said.
“She is going to be late for school and will miss out on learning. She will also have to wait for me to come and pick her up after school – why should my child have to wait at school when everyone else has gone home?”
Ellie-May was placed on a waiting list for Skerne Park Academy and reached number two in the queue, but has been pushed down to four after families who lived closer also applied.
A council spokeswoman said: “A parent can appeal against the decision of the panel if their circumstances change significantly or after the period of one year, they can re-appeal. Children can be added to a waiting list for a particular school and will be advised once a place becomes available.”
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