Mum launches petition in school admissions battle

Julia Smith with her twin sons Josh and Dan Bland, both 10
Julia Smith with her twin sons Josh and Dan Bland, both 10
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A mother has launched a petition after her twin sons were denied a place at their first choice secondary school in Oakham.

Julia Smith’s sons Josh and Dan Bland, both 10, have been denied a place at Catmose College, and pending the outcome of an appeal, they may have to attend Casterton Business and Enterprise College.

The boys live in Market Overton and the council has confirmed that it will cost £19,000 over five years for Rutland County Council to provide transportation for them to travel to the school in Great Casterton.

The Mark Bland bus service that travels to Casterton Business and Enterprise College currently stops in Cottesmore to pick up pupils, but will have to include an additional stop in Market Overton, costing the council £3,800 a year, which equates to £20 a day.

Julia has set up an online petition to warn people how much it will cost the council, to generate discussions with parents facing the same problems, and gain support for her appeal against the school’s decision to deny her sons a place. So far, 95 people have signed the petition.

Julia, 51, of Main Street, Market Overton, said: “It seems ridiculous that that’s how much it will cost. Twenty pound a day just seems a real waste of taxpayers’ money.

“I set up the petition to see how much support I would get and whether people agree with me.

“And it’s not just the money but it’s also the time it would take out of their day. They wouldn’t be back until 5pm at night which is a long day for them, and that’s without starting homework or tea.”

Josh and Dan currently attend Langham Primary School. Most of their friends have been accepted at Catmose College, but the twins are among 86 applicants who were turned down for September this year.

After a consultation with parents and primary schools, Catmose College’s admissions policy was altered to give higher preference to children with a sibling currently at the school or one that has attended in the last five years.

The boys live only six miles from the school but because distance is fifth preference, they were not given a place.

Casterton Business and Enterprise College is 11 miles away from their home.

Julia added: “All their friends are going to Catmose and it’s really not fair on them.”

To see the petition, visit http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/rutlanders-support-my-application-for-josh-and-dan-to-attend-catmose-college