Boy, 4, given place at 26th closest school

May 24, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

The parents of a four-year-old boy are furious after he was offered a place at his 26th closest school.

Zachary Yates lives just a few minutes’ walk from a primary school and is within a mile of six others.

But they are all oversubscribed and the local council says the nearest available space is at a struggling primary on a council estate two miles away.

His mother Kirstey, 41, says the uncertainty has hampered his preparation for starting school.

She said: ”I am supposed to be preparing Zachary for school but I can’t even take him to show him where he will be going.

”He can’t join in any meet-the-teacher or other familiarisation sessions. This is unfair and unsettling. Starting school is a big step.

”This is happening year after year, it seems. Obviously the system is not right. Let’s get it sorted out so that other parents and children in future don’t have to have this worry.”

Bristol City Council runs an admissions system where parents are asked to select three ‘preferred’ schools they would like their children to attend.

If those are full they are then offered an alternative establishment which should be within two miles of their home.

Zachary is among 300 pupils in Bristol who have not been offered a place at one of their three preferred choices for the year starting in September.

His parents’ top three choices – Colston’s, Westbury Park, and Henleaze primaries – are all within a short walk of their £450,000 home in Redland but are all oversubscribed and Zachary was rejected.

Instead he was offered a place 2.3 miles away at Badock’s Wood Primary school in Southmead, which was put in special measures by Ofsted in 2005.

It has since improved but its latest report in January this year described pupil progress as ”inadequate” and said the school requires ”significant improvement”.

There are 25 alternative primaries which are closer to Zachary’s home and Kirstey will now face a four-mile round-trip to drop him off.

The journey is in the opposite direction to the nursery that his two-year-old sister Evie is due to attend.

Zachary’s parents can appeal the decision but have little chance of success because of laws governing class sizes.

Their only other option is to delay starting school until after Zachary is five in the hope of a place coming up.

Mum-of-two Kirstey is one of 100 parents who has signed an online petition set up by an action group called ‘Bristol Primary Admissions Crisis’.

Founded by university lecturer Mona Jeffreys, it aims to ensure parents are offered places closer to home.

She said: ”There is a lack of planning. The council has a responsibility to educate every child.

”It should not be relying on the fact that some parents will choose private education.”

Bristol City Council has offered 4,833 primary admissions places for the 2010/11 academic year and says 92 per cent of applicants received one of their three preferred schools.

Spokeswoman Julia Walton said: ”There are currently enough school places, but we recognise that the margin is tight.

”Discussions are continuing with a number of schools to identify further opportunities to provide additional places for September 2010 and beyond.”

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