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Shipley mum starts petition over Bradford school places
A mother has created an e-petition to try to get Bradford Council to change the way it allocates school places after her son was rejected from a school close to his home.
Tracy Briscoe, who lives in Thornhill Drive, Shipley , said her son Jake, who is aged four and goes to Low Ash Nursery, was rejected by Low Ash Primary School because, on the straight line distance criteria used by the Council, he lives too far away.
He now has to go to High Crags which Mrs Briscoe claims is a 30-minute walk, compared to the 20-minute walk to Low Ash. Mrs Briscoe does not drive.
In a desperate attempt to get the Council to reconsider or change the criteria for other parents faced with the same dilemma, Mrs Briscoe has created her e-petition after her appeal was turned down by the Council.
Her e-petition asks officials to change the straight line distance criteria to the “more practical” walking distance and asks for it to be compulsory to provide proof of address in all cases.
Mrs Briscoe said: “When a school is oversubscribed, they look at children in public care, siblings, and then distance the child has to travel to the school’s main entrance – using straight line distance.
“This petition sets out to identify and rectify two areas of concern that we feel are flaws in the school allocation and appeals process.
“That is the use of straight line distance which falls down due to the fact that rarely can one walk to school in a straight line and there are many families who have to walk, meaning the use of ‘straight line distance’ is unfair, lacking practical reasoning.
“This may be the easiest way for the local authority to do it, but it’s certainly not the fairest. It shows disregard for personal family circumstances/difficulties, and is both illogical and lacking in empathy.
“Also proof of address is not needed unless it is different from the one given at pre-school. There is no system in place to protect truthful parents and ultimately the people who choose to be honest are the ones who are penalised. Where is the incentive to be honest?”
The Department of Education said that every admission authority must consult its local community when changes are proposed to its admissions arrangements and at least once every seven years as a minimum.
A spokesman for the Council said that if the petition – at http://epetition. bradford.public-i.tv – got more than 1,500 signatures it would be discussed at full council.
He said that the straight walking distance had been in use for seven years with no plans to change it and that if addresses were mismatched in the Council system, checks were undertaken to find the correct address.
Sue Colman, the Council’s assistant director for education and schools, said: “Any member of the public in the district is entitled to present a petition and it will be considered carefully when it is received. The key is that admissions policies should be applied rigorously and fairly. There is an independent appeals process which considers particular circumstances within the context of the admissions policy.”
A few months ago Bradford mother Julie Brown collected 450 signatures for her e-petition asking for tougher checks on where families live. It was discussed by the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.