Mum’s ‘guilt’ over struggle to find school place for daughter

A mum says the struggle to find her six-year-old daughter a school place has left her family "socially isolated" in a new town.

Laura Magill was hoping for a “perfect” new start for her and her daughters Daisy, six, and Holly, four, when they moved to Yeovil in November.

But successive rejections from schools to enrol her eldest child has left the family "isolated".

Laura, who said she feels feels “overwhelmed with frustration and guilt”, claims the snubs mean they have no opportunities to make friends or get to know their neighbours, Somerset Live reports.

When the family arrived in Yeovil, Daisy needed to start at a new school immediately while Holly is due to begin school this September.

After failing to get a place for Daisy at the school in her catchment area, Preston Primary, Laura says she found the process of rejections from primary schools a “waste of time and resources.”

She added: “Not being able to attend a local school means my daughters and myself are socially isolated in the area.

“We are not given an opportunity to get to know our neighbours and make friends with other single parents in the area for social support.

“After just one week of my daughter being out of school she became unmotivated and quiet.

“Home schooling works for some, however making a child who is used to attending school stay home is unfair.”

In December alone Laura, who can’t drive, received rejections from three local primary schools and in January she was told of a seven month waiting list for another.

Somerset County Council has offered Laura no details on how her daughter would be transported to school, even if she did receive an offer, she claims.

The school most recently offered to Laura and her child is Milford Infants School on Glenthorne Avenue in Yeovil – a 38 minute walk across Yeovil from her home.

“I was told I could apply for all these schools online, which isn’t correct as a lot of these schools want to have your original tenancy agreement and birth certificates to photocopy.

“Which is why I’m so aware of the troubles with walking distance as I’ve walked with children to these schools”, Laura said.

The whole process has left Laura feeling like there are not enough school places and that the system for helping parents is broken.

She said: “I appreciate this struggle is affecting a lot of parents. My argument is if so many have the same issue, then the system isn’t working, and with all the new housing in Yeovil something needs to happen fast to help the schools, the community and the county council.”

Daisy has been offered a place at the King Ina Academy for Infants in Somerton, a school Laura says her daughter thinks is “lovely”.

But according to Laura, the transport costs make it “impossible”.

“A family bus ticket in Yeovil is £55 a week or £22 a day”, Laura said.

Apparently the county council is unable to help Laura with the transport to Somerton.

Laura insists the issue is so important to Daisy, she will find a way to make it happen, though she fairs her two daughters will end up at separate schools – creating more issues.

Laura has also contacted Marcus Fysh MP, who represents Yeovil in Parliament, to see if he could help her.

She wants him to find out how many children in Yeovil are without a school place, like Daisy.

He said in a statement: “Although I can’t comment on individual cases the county council is not aware of any other unplaced children in the area. It has just announced a big investment programme for the next ten years which will include 14 new sites which should mean that even more parents can get their children into their first choice school.

“By raising the bar generally families have a bigger choice of good schools to send their children to – nationwide we have nearly two million more children in schools Ofsted rated good or outstanding than in 2010.

“Every unhappy case needs to be looked at though and I hope the Magills will end up settled with a bright future ahead of them.”

A spokeswoman for Somerset County Council said they couldn’t talk about the personal circumstances of individual cases but did confirm Laura Magill had been offered a “few” school places.

The council spokeswoman added: “We work closely with parents to support them to find appropriate school places for their children.

“Almost 99 per cent of children in Somerset were given one of their top three choices of schools when they applied last year and 93 per cent secured their first choice primary school.

“When a child moves to the area we work with the parents to find an appropriate school that is close to where their live and if a school is over the statutory two miles walking distance we would look to provide transport assistance.

“There are currently no children without a school place in Somerset and 122 places available at primary schools across the Yeovil area.

“Demand for places at some schools in the Yeovil area is high.

“We have recognised this and we have invested millions of pounds in building two new primary schools in these areas.

“Primrose Lane Primary School opened its doors last summer and held their official opening last week, and Kingfisher Primary School is open and is due to move in to the new school building in May this year.”


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