A MOTHER is angry because her twin daughters – one of whom has special needs – face being sent to different secondary schools.
Eleven-year-old Holly Barney – who has Turner syndrome which means she has learning difficulties, a growth hormone deficiency and hearing problems – was awarded a place at her first choice school, John Mason, in Abingdon because she has special educational needs.
But sister Kerri has been offered a place at Fitzharry’s in the town, because the family live outside the John Mason catchment area.
Their mother Sharon, who wanted John Mason as her first choice for both girls, said she had been left reeling by the decision.
Mrs Barney, of Home Close, Wootton, said: “It is just absolutely ridiculous. The girls are going to be separated at school for the first time and Kerri is very upset by that. I just thinking splitting up twins is awful.”
The county council said Holly was offered her place at John Mason based on her Special Educational Needs (SEN).
In March, Oxfordshire County Council announced that 90.8 per cent of pupils got into their first choice of secondary school for September. However, dealing with an increase of 337 applications, it fell from 92.7 per cent of pupils gaining places at their preferred school the previous year.
Mrs Barney added: “I know so many other kids at their school (Wootton St Peters) who got into John Mason because their siblings go there.
“But because my girls don’t have an older sibling there they don’t have that same priority.
“But surely the fact one sibling is going should give them the same position. On Holly’s statement (of special educational needs), it states that Kerri acts as a young carer for her, which I’m hoping the council will look at.”
County council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Children are offered places at schools on the basis of the admissions criteria for those schools – including whether or not families live within a school’s catchment area.
“In this case, the family does not live in the catchment area for John Mason School. However, children with a statement of Special Educational Needs are the highest priority and must be offered a place at the school named on that statement – in this case John Mason.
“This year John Mason received a large number of applications which meant no children applying from outside the catchment area – other than those with statements of SEN or looked after by the council – were offered a place for September 2014. This includes children living outside the catchment area who may have a sibling attending.
“There is no admissions criterion covering siblings who are both yet to attend a school – though even if there were, this would not have led to both being offered a place at John Mason in this case.”
An appeal against the decision will be heard on May 6.