Worksop girl skips whole year of education after missing out on school place

A Worksop girl has skipped her first year of secondary education after being denied a place at the nearby school.

By Sophie Wills
Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 4:12 pm

Cerys Whittaker has had to be homeschooled by her mum Sarah – who says she’s ‘no teacher’ and worries for her daughter’s wellbeing and future.

The 12-year-old, from Worksop was originally offered a place at Serlby Park Academy in Bircotes.

Despite the school being around nine miles away, Sarah accepted this as Cerys’ older brother attended the same school in a taxi funded by Nottighamshire County Council.

Outwood Academy Valley, Worksop.

“I assumed Cerys would be able to just hop in the taxi with her brother, but was later told this would not be allowed,” said Sarah.

"I was told Cerys would have to get public transport. No way – she was 11 at the time and even at 12, she’s still too young.

"There’s only one bus and it winds all the way through Carlton and Tickhill before it gets to Bircotes. Unfortunately, I don’t drive so can’t take her.”

Serlby Park Academy, Bircotes.

Sarah told the school she would homeschool Cerys temporarily while she applied for a place for her daughter at Outwood Academy Valley.

"It took them forever to come back to me, only for them to tell me they were oversubscribed,” said Sarah.

"As Cerys was still enrolled at Serlby, I got a £60 fine on top of that.”

Cerys has now missed out on around 15 months worth of schooling.

"It’s an absolute nightmare,” said Sarah. “I do my best, but I’m no teacher and she’s not getting the standard of education needed.

"I also worry about her development as she’s not seeing any of her friends she went to Prospect primary school with. They’re all at Valley.”

It comes after a petition was set up in support of Riley Ridegon, the only pupil in his class to be denied a place at a school in his hometown.

His devsasted mum Lisa believes the 10-year-old, who will be forced to catch public transport to a school nine miles in Warsop, has been ‘singled out’.

With more of these types of cases emerging, and new houses being built in the town as we speak, it begs the question – are there enough school places for our children in Worksop?

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.

“In Cerys’ case, she was offered a place at the first preference school on her application but when the family changed their mind, the school she wanted for her daughter was full.

“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.”