Mum's anger as her daughter is denied a school place
PUBLISHED: 16:43 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:36 07 September 2010
A BELSIZE Park mother has slammed Camden Council for failing to find her daughter a place at a nearby primary school. Zoe Winfield applied for any of the four nearest non-faith schools to her home, but her four-year-old daughter Lexie was offered none of
A BELSIZE Park mother has slammed Camden Council for failing to find her daughter a place at a nearby primary school.
Zoe Winfield applied for any of the four nearest non-faith schools to her home, but her four-year-old daughter Lexie was offered none of them.
The family was then advised to join the waiting lists of many other schools, including faith schools which Ms Winfield is opposed to.
A month went by and Lexie was finally offered a place at Carlton Primary School in Gospel Oak - the 10th nearest to her home.
"Despite reading a very poor Ofsted report and the fact that this school was second from bottom in the 2006 league tables for the whole borough of Camden, we kept an open mind and visited the school," said Ms Winfield.
"The staff were friendly and helpful, but admitted Lexie would be in a classroom where a high percentage of children would still be learning English.
"This is not a school for a child with well above average attainment levels.
"I think Lexie is being prejudiced against because of where she lives and by the admissions criteria of church schools, which are our nearest primary schools."
The family has been left with no option but to join the waiting list of seven nearby faith schools which are already over-subscribed.
"I am absolutely disgusted and amazed this has happened," Ms Winfield said.
"We have been incredibly flexible and gave Camden the full four options," added the mother.
"We live in a pocket where there are lots of schools around us but they are all private.
"And because it is 0.3 or 0.4 miles to the nearest school we are a bit too far away so we get left with nothing."
Camden's admissions policy allows parents to accept a place at a school and remain on the waiting list for as many other schools as they choose - the onus is on the parent to remove themselves from the list.
The council has further infuriated Ms Winfield by suggesting Lexie wait until September 2009 instead of starting in January as planned.
She also claims to know of other parents in Belsize Park who have been forced to go private because of Camden's lack of schools in the area.
Camden Council admitted its admission process can be "difficult and stressful" for parents.
"We have and will continue to work with Mrs Winfield to find a suitable school place for her daughter Lexie," added a spokeswoman.
"Mrs Winfield applied for reception class for her daughter Lexie, listing four schools on her application form.
"Unfortunately, Lexie was not able to obtain a school place at any of her chosen schools, as other children who had applied to those schools were considered as having a higher priority under the published admission criteria.
"Mrs Winfield has been notified of the reasons why her application was unsuccessful and advised of her right to appeal against non-admission.
"However, we were able to offer Lexie a place at an alternative school while she remained on the waiting list for her chosen schools, but her parents subsequently declined this offer.