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West Hampstead mum’s anger at wait for local school place for daughter with learning difficulties

Ana Lopes and her 10-year-old daughter, who she did not want to name. Ms Lopes' daughter, who has learning difficulties, had to wait for more than two months to get a school place. Ana Lopes and her 10-year-old daughter, who she did not want to name. Ms Lopes' daughter, who has learning difficulties, had to wait for more than two months to get a school place.

Thursday, June 5, 2014
1:00 PM

A mother of a West Hampstead schoolgirl with learning difficulties has spoken of her anger after she had to wait nearly three months to get a place at a school her daughter could travel to safely.

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Ana Lopes’ 10-year-old daughter, who suffers from dyslexia and dyspraxia, did not get into any of the family’s six choices of secondary schools when places were allocated in March.

Her daughter, whom Ms Lopes does not want to name, was 
finally offered a place at her second choice school, Parliament Hill, Highgate Road, on Friday, after the Ham&High contacted Camden Council.

Until then her daughter had only been offered a place at Regent High School, in Somers Town, which Ms Lopes said would have been difficult for her daughter to travel to.

The 45-year-old, who is a full-time student, said: “It’s just too far. She would have to get two buses to get there and it wasn’t suitable.
I don’t want her to travel alone. To Hampstead School, it’s just one bus, and we have neighbours whose children go there, which would be helpful in terms of support if I wasn’t able to take her.

“I feel like I’ve been under a dark cloud and I couldn’t quite see the sun shining through.”

Anxiety

Ms Lopes will now ask neighbouring parents whose children also go to Parliament Hill to help her daughter travel to and from school.

She said she was “relieved” that her daughter, who currently attends Fitzjohn’s Primary School, in Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Hampstead, finally has a place at a school she can safely travel to. But the wait had been “very stressful”.

“There were enormous levels of anxiety for me and my child before she was taking her SATs exams,” Ms Lopes said. “There is clearly an issue about postcode lotteries and I think it’s very unfair in the sense of people having to move to find a good school.”

She continued: “It causes overloaded waiting lists and then there aren’t enough places for children to go to school.

“There’s definitely a need for another school in the area.”

A spokesman from Camden Council said: “Unfortunately the family lives outside the catchment area for the three schools originally applied for, all of which were oversubscribed.

“Parents are required to state if they have any exceptional 
social or medical needs to be taken into account. No information was included in this case.”

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