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Parents' anger over school place row
8:00am Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
A BATTLE of wills with a council has resulted in a mother being threatened with arrest and her 11-year-old daughter forced to attend a separate school to her friends.
For the last four years Niamh (CORRECT) Wilson has been educated at Durham Lane Primary School, Eaglescliffe, a feeder school to Egglescliffe Comprehensive, just two miles from her own front gate.
However, the youngster is having to attend Conyers School, on the other side of neighbouring Yarm, more than four miles away.
Parents John, 60, and Wendy, 53, lost their appeal against the council decision and Mrs Wilson kept Niamh off school for the first fortnight of the autumn term in protest.
To make sure Niamh gets to school, local education authority Stockton Borough Council is having her taken there every day by taxi, while her mum has been warned a warrant will be issued for her arrest if she stops her daughter attending lessons.
A school attendance officer is making fortnightly visits to the family’s home at Burnhope Farm, Eaglescliffe, to make sure Niamh is going to school.
Mrs Wilson claimed: “It is all so stupid. It would take me just five minutes to take her and drop her off at Egglescliffe each morning. You have to drive past Egglescliffe School on the way to Yarm."
Stockton Council had initially offered Niamh a place at the Roman Catholic comprehensive school of Our Lady and St Bede’s in Stockton, despite the fact that the couple are not Catholic.
Farmer John Wilson said: “Stockton Council’s attitude beggar’s belief. The council have made their mind up and will not back down.”
The family’s home straddles a postcode boundary with the farmhouse technically in Stockton, but fields and the farm gate in Eaglescliffe.
A council spokesperson said: “After Mrs Wilson was unsuccessful in gaining a place at Egglescliffe for her daughter, she was advised that one of her admission zone schools – Ian Ramsey – was also full, however she could be allocated a place at her other admission zone school - Our Lady and St Bede.
"This was turned down and after a meeting with a choice adviser, Mrs Wilson agreed to her daughter accepting a place at Conyers. As there is no safe walking route to school, free transport is provided."