Anger as Chesterfield grandmother loses admissions appeal for ‘vulnerable’ granddaughter’s chosen school

A Chesterfield grandmother who cannot get her ‘vulnerable’ granddaughter into the secondary school of her choice has hit out at the admissions process.

Friday, 27th May 2022, 11:54 am
Updated Monday, 30th May 2022, 8:04 am
Tracie Lee has spoken of her anger after failing to win an appeal to secure her granddaughter a place at Outwood Academy Newbold
Tracie Lee has spoken of her anger after failing to win an appeal to secure her granddaughter a place at Outwood Academy Newbold

Tracie Lee, 57, lives less than one-mile away from Outwood Academy Newbold and had hoped to send her granddaughter Tianna there when she starts secondary school in September.

But, as Tianna’s legal guardian, Tracie was dismayed to discover her application was refused and that the 10-year-old had instead been offered a place at Whittington Green School –around a 45-minute walk away in Old Whittington.

The frustrated grandmother has since failed to win an appeal against the decision and says she now faces having to home school the youngster as she has ADHD and is ‘too vulnerable’ to catch a bus.

Tracie said: “I was led to believe that if you have a guardianship order, you can pick the school for your child so I just put one school down, thinking that was the school that I’d get.

"Tianna’s School, Dunston Primary, is also a feeder school for Outwood Academy Newbold so people said she’d definitely get in.

"I did appeal it and, last Tuesday, I lost the appeal… there’s just not enough room basically. Tianna has ADHD, she is not capable to go to Whittington Green and catch a bus by herself, she’s too vulnerable.

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"She just wouldn’t be able to leave this house and make her way to the bus stop, which is around half way walking to Outwood Academy Newbold; bearing in mind that none of her friends are going to this school, she just wouldn’t be able to to do it.”

Tianna, who is on medication for her ADHD, has reportedly been left ‘devastated’ by the decision and will be split from her best friend who was able to secure a place at Outwood Academy Newbold.

Derbyshire County Council said that, although it is responsible for administering the allocation of school places, Outwood Academy Newbold sets its own admissions policies.

The authority added: “This year, the school received more than 500 applications for the 180 places available at Outwood Academy, Newbold, and every applicant living in the normal area of the school and applied on time was given a place.

“When a school is oversubscribed, places are allocated according to the school’s oversubscription criteria and there is no discretion to do otherwise.

“Any parent or guardian who hasn’t secured a place at their chosen school has the right to appeal the decision and put their case to an independent Appeal Panel which is independent of the council and the school.

"We appreciate the family’s position but the independent panel’s decision is legally binding on all parties.

“In cases where families may require support around special education needs and disabilities, we would encourage them to contact the Derbyshire Information and Advice Service for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities which is an independent service that provides guidance, support and advice to families in Derbyshire. For more information visit the website.”

A spokesperson for Outwood Academy Newbold said: "It is unfortunate that Tiana has not secured a place at Newbold, we are sure she would be an asset to the school.

"However, our admissions policy is applied by Derbyshire County Council in line with the joint admission arrangements and to ensure equity and impartiality in determining our Year 7 admissions.

"Whilst the school is regularly oversubscribed as more parents preference the academy, there is simply not enough space to admit more than the 180 admission limit."

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