Girl left out in cold in school place row

A young girl says she was left '˜heartbroken' after she discovered she was being sent to a new school almost 10 miles from her home, far away from her friends.

Monday, 27th March 2017, 10:14 am
Updated Monday, 27th March 2017, 1:18 pm
Sienna Swift, 11, has been offered a secondary school place ...12 miles away from her home. Lancashire county council have offered to pay for taxis to and from school after it was revealed Sienna would have to leave the house at 6.30am every morning and take two buses to arrive at Fleetwood High on time.

Sienna Swift, 11, hoped to join her Stalmine Primary School pals at either Baines School, Millfield High School, or Hodgson Academy in Se ptember when she moves up from primary to secondary.

Instead, she was told by Lancashire County Council that she would be attending Fleetwood High School nearly 10 miles from her Birch Grove home in Stalmine.

She said: “I feel heartbroken that I’ve been sent to Fleetwood High because I will have to get up very early in the morning if I want to get there on time.

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“There isn’t a school bus so I would have to set off at 6.30am and catch two Blackpool Transport buses to get there for 8.30am.

“By the time I get home and do my homework and have my tea and shower I won’t be spending any time with my mum.

“Nobody from my school is going to Fleetwood High. I’d have to leave my friends.”

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said the reason Sienna had not been allocated a place at one of her three preferred schools was that her parents, Mark Swift, 42, and Liza Taylor, 46, did not send off her secondary school application until a month after the October 2016 deadline – a timescale the family dispute.

Mark said: “We don’t deny that the application was sent off two days late, but our argument would be why wasn’t she then offered a place at St Aidan’s which is just a mile away from us, or Garstang Academy?”

A bus journey from Stalmine to Fleetwood High School takes more than an hour, not accounting for 

“The journey to Sienna’s first choice of school – Baines – takes approximately half that time.

Mark, who works as a car manufacturer, said his daughter was offered transport by Lancashire County Council, however, the council said no decisions had been made as yet.

Mark said: “Taxis to and from the school for five years would add up to around £28,000, which is just unbelievable.

“For that amount of money I could probably send her to a private school.

“We are going to appeal to have her sent to another school in the area but the problem with that is that we don’t know if we will be successful or not until August.

“I could understand the decision if we had put Fleetwood High as one of her options, but we didn’t.

“Sienna was very disappointed because her friends are going to Baines, Hodgson or Millfield.”

Debbie Ormerod, Head of the Pupil Access Team at Lancashire County Council, said: “I understand how anxious parents feel if their child doesn’t get a place at one of their preferred schools.

“I’d like to reassure parents that school places are allocated fairly and objectively and every application is agreed upon using the criteria which have been agreed for that school.

“In this case, the application was received nearly a month late, with no mitigating explanation.

“All late applications are considered after those that are received on time, in line with published admission criteria.

“The three preferred schools were oversubscribed with on time applications and therefore there was not a place available.

“We have not yet carried out the assessments to receive assistance with transport and therefore decisions about entitlement have not been communicated to parents.”