Boy refused place at school 300 yards from home

SCHOOLED AT HOME ... Jack Blatchford with dad Lee.
SCHOOLED AT HOME ... Jack Blatchford with dad Lee.

A DESPAIRING father claims he has been forced to teach his son at home after he missed out on a place at a school less than 300 yards away from the family’s front door.

Jack Blatchford was due to start secondary school this month, but has been unable to join his friends at Harton Technology College in South Shields.

The 11-year-old lives in Cross Way, Harton, South Shields, with father Lee, 39, and brother Lleyton, 10.

But when Mr Blatchford, a plumber by trade, applied for his son’s secondary school place, they were living in Biddick Hall, although Jack and his brother were both pupils at Harton Primary School.

South Tyneside Council says the admissions criteria was correctly applied and Mr Blatchford will now have to wait until the start of the next academic year to re-apply for a place at Harton.

Mr Blatchford said: “I’m a single parent. The boys and I moved up from the south about seven years ago, after I got divorced, to be closer to my mum. We lived with her for a couple of years and the children went to Harton Infants.

“They were there all the way through the infants and primary school even after we were given a home in Biddick Hall. I didn’t want them to change schools again, so I drove them to and from Harton.

“When I applied for Jack to go to secondary school, I used my mum’s address in Prince Edward Road, where they were living through the week. It was out of the catchment area by about six houses for Harton Technology College, so we got knocked back, but we appealed the decision, unsuccessfully.

“We moved to Cross Way at the end of May and went through another appeal, but still got knocked back.”

Jack has been offered a place almost two miles away at Mortimer Community College in South Shields, and at Whitburn C of E Academy, which is almost three miles away, but he has declined both offers.

Mr Blatchford said: “I’ve got no choice at the moment but to home school him and I feel like I’m not getting any help from anywhere.

“Jack wants to be where his friends are. He’s getting upset all the time and I’m not in the best of health at the moment. It is a worry.

“I don’t see why he should be catching buses to school when there is a school on his doorstep.”

Mr Blatchford has just applied for Lleyton’s secondary school place for next September and is concerned that his sons may end up at two separate schools if his application to Harton Technology College is successful.

A Council spokesman said: “We make every effort to offer young people a place at their preferred choice of school but this 
depends on the number of places available.

“We sympathise with parents and pupils who are unsuccessful in securing a place at their first choice school and always try to offer them a place at either their second or third choice school.

“This year, we administered more than 1,300 applications for secondary school places in line with our admissions policy, and 96 per cent of young people secured places at their first choice school.

“In this case, the admissions criteria was correctly applied. Our school admissions team has since provided advice and guidance to the family on the alternative options available.”

Twitter @shieldsgazedu