A SHEFFIELD girl has been out of school for the last 19 months – after failing to land a place at her local secondary.
Twelve-year-old Melanie Sambrook is being taught at home by mum Caroline, who refuses to send her to alternative schools across the city.
Melanie has been offered places at a variety of schools – including Birley, Stocksbridge High, Firth Park, Newfield, Hinde House and Sheffield Park Academy.
But Caroline is determined she should go to Forge Valley Community School, close to the family home in Wisewood Place – despite losing two appeals to independent panels.
“Melanie went to Shooters Grove Primary in Stannington which is supposed to be a feeder school for Forge Valley, and we also live in the catchment area,” she said.
“I don’t want her travelling to a school on the other side of the city. We wanted her to start at Forge Valley when it first opened in September 2011 but it seems there weren’t enough places for youngsters living in the surrounding area.”
Forge Valley, created by a merger between Myers Grove and Wisewood, has a sixth form and around 1,500 students.
Mrs Sambrook said there had been no objections to Melanie being taught at home, but there had only been one visit from an official to see she was being educated properly.
“We’re managing but she is missing her friends, they all go to Forge Valley. She’s a clever girl and she’s missing mixing with people her own age,” she said.
“At the appeals the school has argued there is simply no space in the classes for another pupil – although we know some have left. But we are determined to see this through until Melanie is offered a place,” Caroline added.
Alena Prentice, assistant director for inclusion and learning services at the city council, said: the appeal panels’ decisions were ‘legally binding on both sides’.
“The situation is that there were more children living in the catchment area with a higher right of admission to Forge Valley. Alternative places have been offered at different schools, but Mrs Sambrook has the right to educate her daughter at home if she wishes.
“Her daughter is on the waiting list for Forge Valley, and we are happy to advise on availability at other schools as numbers do fluctuate.”