West Sussex twins 'devastated' to be split for first time after not getting into chosen secondary schools

A West Sussex mum has said she is ‘devastated’ after her twins were sent to schools on opposite ends of the town.

Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 5:18 pm
Updated Sunday, 3rd March 2019, 4:00 pm
Jacqueline Brook with her children Tiggy (left) and Leon, both 10. Pic: Eddie Mitchell

Jacqueline Brookes, 40, of Barrington Road in Worthing, applied for three nearby schools for her twins, Leon and Tiggy, but was shocked to see them split up and facing dangerous solo commutes after being given places at none of their chosen schools.

Leon has been assigned to St Andrew’s High School for Boys in Sackville Road, Worthing, and Tiggy to Angmering School in Station Road, Angmering.

The mother-of-four said the pair, who are still only 10 years old, had never been apart and feared for the effect it could have on her son.

Jacqueline Brook with her children Tiggy (left) and Leon, both 10. Pic: Eddie Mitchell

“I am devastated,” she said.

“They were really, really upset, both crying. My daughter is the leader, so if they were split up it would be devastating for my son. He relies on her. What she says, he does – she is the lead twin.

“My son suffers from anxiety and there’s no way he can travel all that way on the train on his own. He would be a nervous, gibbering wreck by the time he got home.

“They would both be going home in the dark on their own in winter. It’s not even entertainable.”

Leon and Tiggy currently attend Goring Primary School and had requested to go to Worthing's Durrington High School, Chatsmore Catholic High School and Bohunt High, in that order of preference.

Durrington and Chatsmore are both in walking distance and Jacqueline admitted she added Bohunt as a ‘worst case scenario’ third choice.

Jacqueline works as a full-time carer for her 6-year-old son Aston, who has special needs, and cannot drive so doing the school run herself is out of the question.

Both twins would now be faced with train journeys of about half an hour, to schools where they would not know anybody.

“My children are still 10 years old – they’re two of the youngest in their year and only turn 11 in June,” said Jacqueline.

“No parent would let an 11-year-old travel that far on their own. It’s just not acceptable. I’m not going to take this lying down.”

Jacqueline has appealed the decision and said she hoped to have the chance to explain her side of the story to West Sussex County Council decision-makers.

A spokesman for the council said: “The vast majority of applicants (96.5%) were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, with 84.2% given their first preference. A small number were not able to be offered one of their preferences. “This could be for a number of reasons and we do appreciate how disappointing this can be for these families.

“This year we processed a total of 9,099 applications, an increase of nearly 400 from 2018, with every child offered a place to start secondary school in September 2019.

“The allocation in the borough of Worthing has been carried out in accordance with our published arrangements, the School Admissions Code and school over-subscription criteria.

“Some schools have been heavily over-subscribed and in some cases it has not been possible to meet any of the three preferences made by applicants. Where this happens the Local Authority has a duty to allocate a place at the catchment school if space allows, or where the catchment school is full, the nearest school with a space available.

“Applicants refused a place at a school will automatically be placed on that schools waiting list after 29 March 2019. Parents refused the school of their preference also have the right of appeal, full information about appealing for a school place can be found on the county council’s website www.westsussex.gov.uk”

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