'Riley's right' - Petition after devastated Worksop boy misses out on school place garners more than 1,100 signatures

A Worksop mum whose son’s mental health has he ‘deteriorated’ after he became the only pupil in his class to miss out on a place at a secondary school in his hometown says her family are ‘in limbo’ as they desperately battle his case.

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Lisa Ridgeon says that her son Riley, usually a ‘happy, popular and confident’ lad, has become withdrawn, refuses to attend primary school and is suffering from stress nosebleeds after missing out on a place at nearby Outwood Academy Portland.

The 10-year-old St Anne’s pupil has instead been offered a place at Meden School in Warsop, nine miles away from his home and friends.

According to Lisa, in order to make it to school on time, Riley would have to get up at 5.15am to catch public transport and wouldn’t get home home until almost 12 hours later, leaving just three hours before bedtime for the 10 hours of sleep recommended for an 11-year-old.

Riley Ridgeon, 10, is the only child in his class to miss out on a secondary school place in Worksop and has been told he will have to travel to a school nine miles away in Warsop.Riley Ridgeon, 10, is the only child in his class to miss out on a secondary school place in Worksop and has been told he will have to travel to a school nine miles away in Warsop.
Riley Ridgeon, 10, is the only child in his class to miss out on a secondary school place in Worksop and has been told he will have to travel to a school nine miles away in Warsop.

A petition for the decision to be overturned has garnered more than 1,000 signatures on change.org and a Facebook page, ‘Riley’s Rights 2021’ has been flooded with messages of support.

Lisa, who works at a special needs school in Retford, said: “When school places came up last year, I applied right away. Both my husband and I attended Portland and we have lived in this town for years, so it didn’t even cross my mind that this would happen.

"We originally received a letter on April 30 informing us Riley had been accepted to Portland on April 30 but on May 4, we received another letter stating this had been retracted. It completely messed with our heads.

"I spoke to other parents and it turned out just one other child in Riley’s class had also missed out on a place, but their appeal against the decision has since been successful. Ours was rejected by the appeal panel. We have basically been told that Portland are oversubscribed and that’s that.

”So many things have failed to be taken into account, least of all his safety.

"Riley for example, is asthmatic and had to shield at the height of the pandemic. There is no school bus from Worksop to Warsop so he’d have to catch public transport and wait around for hours before the school bell. We have family dotted all around Worksop that Riley can walk to from school if he ever needs to, but we don’t know anyone in Warsop.

"As I work at a school myself, I know exactly how this decision will shape Riley’s future. He’s spent years developing core relationships at primary school only to be separated from his friends. I’m not saying he wouldn’t make new friends at Meden, but he shouldn’t be the only child in his class who has to do that.

"I feel that me and my husband have done a lot for the school community. But it seems to be that you’re on a system and if you’re one of the unlucky ones, it’s tough.”

Marion Clay, service director for Education, Learning and Skills at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “I appreciate the anxiety parents feel about school applications for their children, especially if their child is not offered a place at their most preferred school. The council cannot stress enough the importance of using all four preferences on school applications, including at least one school where the child will meet one of the higher criteria for admission.

“All secondary schools in Bassetlaw are academies which means they are their own admission authority schools and decisions about admission applications are made by the academy.

“We can confirm that only one preference was made on Riley’s school application, which was for an academy out of catchment for his home address, so he was allocated a place at the next closest school with places available.

“It is also important that parents consider how their child will travel to school and whether they would be eligible for travel assistance before completing their school applications.

“I encourage both parents to contact the council’s customer service centre for further advice about travel assistance and the support available.

“We are aware of the ongoing housing developments in the district and we are working with Outwood Academy Trust to make sure there are enough school places available in the area for local children”.

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