A mother of two is desperate when she has to send her sons to different schools, writes Elliot Ball.
This is the second time Shell Smith of Newark has been denied a place for her children at the school of her choice.
This time she was turned down for a place at a school that her other son had already attended.
“It’s amazing – I think that’s probably the best word to describe it,” she said.
“I never expected my second child not to get first choice in secondary school because his older brother was in school.”
Two years ago Shell applied for her son to attend Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield after he graduated from Winthorpe Primary.
Group of students.
To the horror of the family, they were denied places at their top three schools and instead offered a place at the Queen Elizabeth Academy, also in Mansfield.
Fortunately, Shell was able to take their son Dylan, now 13, to Minster School in Southwell instead.
But when she applied for a place at Minster School for Nathan, 11, she was turned down again.
“When we applied for schools for Nathan, we wanted to send him to Southwell Minster, too,” Shell said.
“You want your children to be in the same school. On March 1st, when I opened the email that said he had been offered a place at the Magnus Church of England Academy, I said, ‘Oh my God, we’re starting again’.
“We hadn’t even put Magnus on the application form.
“I have to be honest, it didn’t even cross my mind that this could happen again and I was literally speechless.
“My second thought was how on earth should I tell Nathan because he’s already been thinking about which school clubs he wanted to do.
“I know it’s not the school’s fault, but common sense would certainly mean both boys end up in the same school.”
The last time the family lost their appeal against the school place award, Shell said it was again concerned.
She said, “I still haven’t sent the appeal because I don’t know how to approach it, because we didn’t pass the appeal last time, and this time I have to win it because Nathan has to go to this school.
“I don’t have a backup plan. He just has to go to this school.
“We have a little bonus for us as we are within five miles of the school and we hope that adds to our attractiveness.”
“But if we had known we wouldn’t have a place, there was no way we would have bought this house.
“We just assumed that one child was in school and the other got a place too.”
Nathan’s mother said that even though he tried to continue with his school work, she could find that he was under immense stress caused by not knowing which school he would be attending from September.
She said, “Nathan was fine the first week, but as soon as he went back to school and all of his friends were talking about which schools they went to, I could tell he was stressed and upset about it.
“He just wants to go to the same school as his brother and some of his football friends, that should certainly go without saying.
“I refused the place Nathan was offered, so he no longer has a school, because I don’t want him to go to that school, because he has to be in a school with his brother.”
If the appeal fails, Shell may have had to consider removing Dylan from Minster School.
She said, “I don’t want to have to bring Dylan out of the minster. He loves this school and has been there for two years.
“But I can’t physically manage two kids in two different schools.”
Phillip Owen, chair of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Children and Youth Committee, said 90.1% of Nottinghamshire children had offered their parents’ first preferred secondary school this September, and 96.9% had offered one of their preferred academies.
He said, “In Newark County, 89.4% were given their first preference and 96.8% were offered one of their four preferences.
“All schools in the Newark District are academies and are responsible for their own admission and ranking applications according to the published admission criteria.
“Before applying, parents are encouraged to review the admission override criteria for their preferred schools and include at least one school in their four preferences, with their child being a high priority in the admission override criteria.
“The School Admissions Code 2014 forbids the admissions authorities to guarantee that a place will be allocated at every school. If parents are denied a place in one of their preferred schools, they have the right to appeal and will be encouraged to do so. “