AN expat couple have had an unwelcome return to South Tyneside after their son was refused a place at their local primary school.
Anthony Redpath moved to Spain in 2004 with his wife Debbie and son Kai, then 14 months old, after he was offered a job in property management.
They returned this summer with Kai, now 10, and his brother, Kawai, who is three next month, and have settled in Buttermere, Cleadon.
They applied for a place for Kai at Cleadon Village C of E Primary School, in Boldon Lane, Cleadon, but their request has been turned down.
An appeal hearing on Monday failed to resolve the issue in their favour and the couple were told to apply to Whitburn Village C of E Primary or East Boldon Juniors.
Mr Redpath, 39, said: “We are very disappointed, not only with the education department, but with the church as well.
“Many of the parents in that school travel from a lot further than Cleadon to get in. It is unfair that my child has been refused a place.
“We will have to start the application process again to see if he gets into the other schools.”
Mr Redpath and his wife, 36, are concerned about Kai getting the bus to Whitburn or East Boldon, as he doesn’t know the area and none of his friends attend those schools.
“He has been out of education since breaking up for the summer in Spain in June,” said Mr Redpath, who is looking for work, while his wife has secured a full-time job at South Shields Post Office.
Their situation is further complicated by Kawai suffering from hypotonia, which causes weakness in the muscles, and he requires speech therapy.
He attends afternoon sessions at Busy Bees Nursery in the village, which means the couple face nursery and school pick-ups around the same time, but three miles apart.
When Mr Redpath returns to work, his parents will have to do this without the aid of a car, as neither of them drive.
A council spokesman said: “Cleadon Village C of E Primary School operates its own admissions policy, which is administered by the school’s Governing Body, and abides by the decisions made by the Independent Admissions Appeals Panel.
“The council is aware of this matter and has been able to secure an alternative school place for Kai.”