Siblings split up in Chichester school places row

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C140029-1 County Hall phot kate''County Hall.C140029-1 ENGSUS00120140701135255

IT has been a week of highs and lows for parents fighting to get their children into their chosen school in Chichester.

Mums branded West Sussex County Council as ‘awful’ after an appeal hearing on Monday found it acted lawfully in reducing its reception intake at Parklands Community Primary School from two classes to one.

Kelly Richardson, of Chatsworth Road, Chichester, said her daughter Lily, six, goes to Parklands, but four-year-old Lexie didn’t get in.

“It is going to be ridiculous getting them there and picking them up on time,” she said. “Lexie was so looking forward to being with her sister. She knows the school and teachers. There is enough children for another class, I don’t know why they are not doing it.”

Sam Dalloway, from Funtington, is a mum of eight whose husband is in the army.

Her first two children went to Parklands, and are now in secondary school, and the next four currently attend the primary school. But her seventh child, Lily, failed to get a place.

“It is just a complete nightmare,” she said.

“They have not thought this through at all in regards to siblings and being in two places at once.”

Many mums who turned up to the appeal hearing on Monday were not satisfied with the outcome and will be appealing independently for a place at the school.

Louise Wade, from Donnington, successfully held her independent appeal on Tuesday.

She wanted her four-year-old, Jessica, to go to Parklands with her son Oliver, but Jessica was originally allocated Kingsham.

“For me personally this 
is absolutely wonderful,” she said.

“All the hard work of fighting against it has paid off in my case. However, sadly this is not the case for everyone and they will have to keep fighting.

“The way the council have dealt with it has been awful and parents should not have had to go through it.

“There should be a second class at the school.”

A spokesman from Parklands Primary School said: “Unfortunately, Parklands has no say over how many or which pupils are admitted to the school. This is the responsibility of the local authority.

“We have no influence over our published admission number and we are not involved in the decisions made during the appeal process. We are very understanding of the difficult position the parents are in and have been supporting them with the correct route of appeal throughout this emotional time.

“We have been approached by an independent before-and-after school care provider with a view to being based at Parklands to start in September. We hope this will help the parents/carers who may have children at more than one school.”

A West Sussex County Council spokeswoman said it was aware of the ‘difficulties and disappointment’ of parents. “However our role is to look at whether there are sufficient places across the area as a whole and in Chichester there are enough places for children starting this September,” she said.

“We realise this might not always be at a parent’s preferred school, but we are unable to selectively offer additional places at schools as it would have the knock-on effect of creating surplus capacity at other schools.”

She added parents were aware only 30 places were available when applying and encouraged them to appeal as well as placing children on the waiting list.