'Heartbreak' as twin girls separated in Worksop school places battle

A pair of twin girls, one of whom has autism, are ‘heartbroken’ after being sent to separate secondary schools in Worksop due to lack of places.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 3:42 pm

The mother of the girls, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she worries for the wellbeing of her ‘super close’ daughters after they were told there wasn’t enough room for both of them at Outwood Academy Valley.

She said: “We applied for places at Valley and were shocked when we were told there weren’t enough places for both girls.

"My daughter who has autism was approved for a place at Valley but her twin sister will be sent to Outwood Academy Portland.

Outwood Academy Valley cannot accept both twins due to space.
Outwood Academy Valley cannot accept both twins due to space.

”It’s heartbreaking. My autistic daughter, when distressed, will for example bite her arm or thump her head.

"Her sister recognises these signs and knows what to do to help her. They need each other. I am just so scared that the other pupils won’t understand.”

The mum appealed the decision with Nottinghamshire County Council letting them know her concerns about what might happen should the girls be separated, but this was rejected by the decision panel.

The Admission Authority argued that to admit further pupils into Valley would ‘prejudice the efficient provision of education and/or the efficient use of resources."

The panel added there were already 10 per cent of pupils on the special needs register and that limited space requires split breaks and lunches.

A letter sent to the mum reads: “Panel members took into account all the information you had presented.

"The Panel concluded that the evidence before them was no sufficient to over-ride the prejudice which they had accepted would result from the admission of further pupils to the school. Your appeal was therefore not upheld.”

The mum said she was ‘shocked’ to see receive the rejection, adding: “What about the mental health of my daughters?

"It’s just unthinkable to see two children go through this kind of stress at their age. They are only 10.

"I just don’t know where else to turn. My husband and I don’t understand their reasoning and have asked for a fuller explanation.”

A spokesperson for Outwood Grange Academies Trust said: "We appreciate that it can be frustrating when somebody does not receive a place at their preferred school however all our admissions are run through the Local Authority’s co-ordinated admission arrangements, in partnership with all other local secondary schools, as such we do not lead on them therefore we feel it would not be appropriate to comment on any individual's case."

Marion Clay, Service Director of Education, Learning and Skills forNottinghamshire County Council said: “I appreciate how difficult this must be for the family.

“Whilst Nottinghamshire County Council coordinates the applications for school places for children in its area, Outwood Academy Valley, as its own admission authority school, is responsible for considering all reasons given by parents and for ranking the applications correctly against their specific oversubscription criteria.

"The council then communicates the outcome of these decisions to parents.

"Admissions processes vary from school to school and parents should make sure they are fully aware of the criteria used by academies which may differ slightly from the oversubscription criteria in many maintained primary schools.

“The family has made an unsuccessful appeal against the school place allocation. The only challenge following appeal is for the parent to go to the Educations Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) if they consider the appeal process has not been managed correctly”.

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