Four-year-old refused place at Sheffield school her older brother already attends

A frustrated mum said she feels let down by Sheffield Council after her daughter was refused at place at her first-choice primary school, even though her son already goes there.

Thursday, 22nd October 2020, 4:45 pm

Nichola Mitchell, 31, has been left devastated after losing an appeal against the decision to refuse her four-year-old daughter Honey a place at Prince Edward Primary School.

The mum-of-two admitted applying for a school place a few days after January 15 deadline due to family circumstances but, despite this, was originally told that Honey had been accepted to Prince Edwards where her brother Harvey, 10, is in Year 5.

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Nichola Mitchell says her four-year-old daughter was initially given a place at Prince Edward Primary School only to be later told this was infact untrue

However, she was later informed this had been a mistake and that her daughter had instead been allocated a place at Pipworth Primary School, over a mile away.

Nichola, from the Lower Manor, said: “Obviously we all got our hopes up when we were told Honey had got a place at Prince Edwards because I’m a mum-of-two and I can’t have two children going to two different schools.

"But, we then got a phone call at the end of week to say they’d gone it wrong and that she’d been allocated a place at Pipworth – it’s just been downhill from there.”

Nichola says she was not allowed to take part in the appeals process which was conducted over Zoom due to current coronavirus restrictions.

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed said it is not always possible to give children a place at their first choice school

She is now worried that Honey, who went to the nursery at Prince Edwards, will not settle in a new school with people she does not know.

The mum-of-two is also unsure how she will get her children to different schools in the morning, and collect them at the same time afterwards – although they are currently being homeschooled as Nichola's husband is classed as vulnerable and the family are therefore shielding.

"Instead of keeping her out of school they said they’re willing to take her back on at nursery, but then my question was what would happen at the end of nursery,” Nichola said.

“They wouldn’t keep her on again for another year, she’s making different friends in different years which I find unfair to her."

Sheffield Council said that although Prince Edwards was not oversubscribed on allocation day, it later became oversubscribed due to late applications.

Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Sheffield Council, said: “It is a priority for us to make sure all children have a place at a school local to them. However in a small number of cases this is not always possible.

"Infant classes can legally only have 30 children in them, so once they are full it is not possible to admit one more child.

“Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases, if a parent appeals against a decision it is taken to an independent appeal panel who consider the case fairly and are able to overturn a school’s decision if they need to.

“If the parent feels this decision has not been taken correctly they can make a further complaint to the ombudsman.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.