Anger over school place

A mum says her daughter has been ‘cheated’ out of a place at a primary school less than a mile from her home because the council does not recognise an alleyway as an approved route to school.

Christine Scrace’s daughter Sophie was turned down for a place at Pebsham School, a 0.73 mile walk from her home in Christine Close, and placed at King Offa – 1.9 miles away.

The local education authority, which decides on approved routes to schools, said the path linking Christine Close to Pebsham Lane was unsuitable.

Christine led a working party, including Sophie, to clear up the alleyway.

She said: “They did check the walking distance, but they wouldn’t let me use the alleyway because it’s not a suitable surface.

“I have cleaned up the alleyway so you can see it’s a pathway. I have got photos of it and the council will not even have a look.”

She says the alley is regularly used by other children.

Sophie has a condition known as hyper mobility syndrome and an over rotation in her hip makes walking long distances painful.

She is also currently being investigated for sensory processing disorder, which Christine says will be aggravated at a larger school.

“There are 400 pupils in King Offa and it’s too much – she will not cope,” she said.

“Some lunchtimes at nursery Sophie has been taken away because the noise is too much for her.”

Sophie’s sister, Abbie, currently attends Pebsham but is leaving in the summer.

And Christine, who is having treatment for breast cancer, says she has established a good support network with other parents at Pebsham.

She added: “We walk to Pebsham 0.73 miles by foot and they are telling me that everyone lives closer than us? It’s frustrating, upsetting and as far as I’m concerned, she’s been cheated of her place.”

A spokeswoman for East Sussex County Council said: “All applications for school places are judged fairly using the published criteria for that particular school and any decision where an application is not successful can be referred to an independent appeals panel. In the case of Pebsham Academy, the admission policies are set by the academy, as they are their own admission authority and not the county council. Pebsham Academy was oversubscribed and a number of children, some living closer to the school than Miss Scrace, were not allocated a place at the school.

“The path that Miss Scrace has asked the council to take into account is not fully surfaced and, therefore, does not comply with the local authority’s walking to school network.

“In the absence of other stated preferences, children are allocated a place at the school nearest to them that has a space available.”

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