Jamie fights for place in village school

by
16 April 2009

by Margaret Holness

School’s out: Jamie Turner, with his father Gary, outside Littledean School, Gloucester­shire MARTIN PERRY/GLOUCESTERSHIRE MEDIA

School’s out: Jamie Turner, with his father Gary, outside Littledean School, Gloucester­shire MARTIN PERRY/GLOUCESTERSHIRE MEDIA

THE PARENTS of four-year-old Jamie Turner area ppealing against a decision by Gloucestershire County Council to refuse him a place at Littledean Church of England Primary School in the Forest of Dean

The refusal came even though his mother, sister, brother,and several generations of his family were pupils there — and his great-great-great grandfather, a stone mason, helped to build the 19th-century school.

Jamie lives with his family just 200 yards from the school, and already attends the nursery there. But, although twocousins have places for the next academic year, he has fallen foul of the Gloucester­shire County Council admissions criteria, which give priority to child­ren who have sibling at a school. His older brother Joshua, currently at Littledean, leaves the school at the end of this term to join his sister Ashleigh at a second­ary school.

One of 19 children applying for 15 places at Littledean,Jamie has instead been offered a place at Forest View Primary, Cinderford, a mile-and-a-half’s walk from his home. His family hopes that the council will change its mind. His father, Gary Turner, said this week that the siblings rule should not be decisive. “This doesn’t just affect our family. We understand that village schools have to take in chil­dren from further afield if they are to keep going, but it’s more impor­tant that local children get places.”

Littledean’s head teacher, Val Huggett, is understood tosupport the appeal. The Revd Richard Wynn, Priest-in-Charge of St Stephen’s, Cinderford, with Littledean, and a governor of the school, said it had become very popular over the past five years, attracting pupils from neighbour­ing villages. “That’s very pleasing, but local opinion, shared by me, is that local children should have first call on places.”

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