A Henfield mother of two is ‘dreading’ the start of the school term after learning her daughter did not gain a placement in her local reception class.
St Peter’s C of E Primary School in Henfield, Fabians Way, is just a five minute walk for mother, Sarah Woods, and her four-year-old daughter, Georgina of Church Street.
But she is one of several parents who were unable to secure a placement at the village primary school due to lack of spaces and will now have to travel further afield for their second choice.
“It’s now going to be a 12 mile round trip to Twineham C of E Primary School,” said Sarah.
“I’m a single mum with my own business. I’ll have to drive Georgina to Twineham, then my younger daughter Charlotte to nursery, and I have no family to help out at all. It’s been extremely stressful.”
This news for local parents follows two large Henfield developments which were approved on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.
The most recent being 160 houses by Barratt Homes just off West End Lane, which was passed earlier this month despite great opposition from local residents.
Horsham District Councillor for Henfield Sheila Matthews said that 20 years ago the parish council tried to secure land adjacent to the school so that an expansion could be made in preparation for future developments, but she claimed the county council turned this proposal down.
Mrs Matthews said: “The government doesn’t seem to understand that this village is already compact.
“Children should be educated in the village they live in.
“The Planning Inspectorate have got to take more account of our young families and the people affected by infrastructure.”
Mrs Wood continued: “With the new estate in Deer Park, residents there get priority over us, but I was born and raised in this village.”
St Peter’s Primary confirmed that seven parents are appealing the decisions, which are currently being reviewed.
Mrs Wood said she will not appeal because there are parents in a far worse situation to that of her own.
“I’m now dreading September because of the logistics,” she added.
St Peter’s headteacher, Nick Phillips said school governors ‘regret the situation’.
He said: “The school can only admit up to its published admission number of 60 to comply with National legislation that restricts infant class sizes to 30.
“The published admissions policy for 2013/14 had to be strictly applied and with 36 families who have siblings already in the school, this has limited other available spaces for this year.
“Seven parental appeals for additional places are due to take place later in the term and we are already working with the Local Authority regarding future provision at St. Peter’s.”
Mrs Matthews added that in this scenario, the large intake of siblings is the reason for lack of spaces, but infrastructure will become a contributing element once the approved developments are built.
A representative at West Sussex County Council said: “In this instance there have been high numbers of applications for places at St Peter’s and additional capacity has been provided in the locality to meet this need.
“The admission authority for the school has a duty to follow a strict admissions policy in order to make the allocation process fair to all parents.
“Parents who have not been offered a placed at St Peter’s will have been offered an alternative place at another suitable local school.”