Grieving single dad’s school place woe

David Torr with his children, Lillie, 4 and Samuel, 7, who both want to get to school on time.
David Torr with his children, Lillie, 4 and Samuel, 7, who both want to get to school on time.

A bereaved single dad has accused the council of tearing his family apart after they refused to send his young children to the same school.

David Torr, of James Avenue, Somercotes, this week lost an appeal to send his four-year-old daughter to Riddings Infant School, where her brother Samuel, seven, is currently taught.

Lillie Torr will instead go to Somercotes Infants - a 25 minute walk from Riddings Juniors on Church Street, where Samuel starts in September.

“I am a single dad and money is more than tight, so I do the school run on foot” said David.

“I have to drop Samuel off at 8.45am and Lillie will have to be there for 8.50am. With a 25 minute walk in between I wont be able to do it.

“Even if I were to take the car, with school traffic it would be easily 15 minutes.”

David, whose partner died following an asthma attack in 2011, said his children have formed a strong bond in the wake of her death.

“They are extremely close,” he said. “I have spent the last three years rebuilding their lives and tried to build a stable home for them, and now the education authority has ripped them apart.

“They didn’t want to know about my situation, they didn’t care. I just think they have failed us as a family.”

The family live less than a mile away from Riddings Infant school, but according to the council, Lillie still did not meet the criteria for entry because other children lived nearer.

David, whose family live in Sheffield, said he doesn’t know how he will cope with the situation in September.

A spokesman for Derbyshire County Council defended the decision.

He said: “The admissions panel, which considered Mr Torr’s appeal, is totally independent. It’s made up of volunteers who have the power to overturn decisions.

“We consult with the public and schools on our admissions criteria every year to make sure they are fair.

“Although we appreciate the difficult circumstances of this case, it would be unlawful to put the preferences of one family above others that meet the admission criteria more closely.”