School placements withdrawn due to ‘error’

A family making preparations for a four-year-old girl to start school have had her school place withdrawn.

Her mum, who wishes to remain anonymous, has called the situation ‘grossly unfair’ after the placement was withdrawn over an ‘error’ more than a fortnight after being confirmed.

The has affected eight children’s places in total, according to Leicestershire County Council.

A mix-up with the school’s catchment map led to the retractions and the mum says the new placement offered is ‘unsuitable.’

Allocations of places for Badgerbrook Primary School in Whetstone were sent via email to parents on Friday, April 16.

The mum said her daughters were delighted to find out they would be starting their first year there and the family had started making arrangements for the new school year.

She told LeicestershireLive: “We have explained everything to our daughters, shown them videos from the website, discussed the uniforms and mentioned the school whenever we passed by, which is multiple times each week.

“They were all very excited to be going to that school.”

But on Tuesday, May 4 the family received a letter retracting the placement because of an ‘error with school catchment map.”

The Children and Family Services at Leicestershire County Council wrote: “It has been discovered that because of an error contained within the school’s catchment area map a place was offered in error.

“Unfortunately this means regretfully, that I am required to withdraw the offer of a place at Whetstone Badgerbrook Primary School.”

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As it had been a number of weeks since the placements had been offered, the family had started to make preparations.

The mum said: “We have already made arrangements with our existing preschools for all children to be grouped with others who will go to the same school to help with the settling in process.

“We have also made necessary arrangements with the childcare of our other children to reflect their new school places as well as sorting drop off and collection.”

The daughters have now been offered a place at another primary school in Narborough which the mum says is ‘unsuitable.’

She added: “This is not suitable. It is unsafe to travel to as there are parts of the route which don’t even have a footpath, meaning we are forced to use a car on an already congested local road system.”

The letter explaining the mistake offers parents the right to appeal the decision.

It says: “I appreciate this decision will be a great disappointment to you and I sincerely apologise for the anxiety this may cause. However, it is imperative the correct children secure the places.”

Leicestershire County Council has also apologised for the ‘distress’ caused saying the error is a ‘rare occurrence.’

A spokesperson said: “This is an unfortunate situation and steps have been taken to ensure this does not happen again. We apologise to the families involved and regret the distress it has caused.

“We are, however, now satisfied the correct families have secured places at the Badgerbrook Primary School.

“Eight children had the offer of a place withdrawn – two have since secured higher ranking preferences and three have been offered alternative places at nearby schools based on the previous preferences expressed by parents.

“We are working closely with the families of the three remaining children to secure alternative schools in the local area. All eight families also have a right of appeal for a place at Badgerbrook Primary School.”

The council explain that national rules say places are to be withdrawn if allocated incorrectly.

It added: “After it became apparent there was an error with allocations to Badgerbrook Primary School, it became clear that eight higher-ranking children who should have been allocated places had missed out.

“To rectify this and apply the national code fairly, the process was re-run and the correct children were offered the places.

“This situation is a rare occurrence – this year we processed more than 7,000 applications for primary school places – and was due to the mapping system not being updated with new houses.”

The mum is currently appealing the decision with the help of a local councillor.

She said: “A standard apology isn’t really good enough.”

Leicestershire Live – Leicester News