A mother-of-two said the school run has become a nightmare after the council placed her children in primary schools miles apart from each other.
Victoria Maart is a single mother who works full time as a nursing home manager and said the school placement crisis has cost her hundreds of pounds a month.
Her daughter Eleanor, 7, was accepted at Lyminster Primary School, Wick Street, Littlehampton in October last year, but when Ms Maart applied for her son, Isaac, 5, to go to the same school she was told there were no places left.
He now attends Georgian Gardens Community Primary School, Guildford Road, Rustington.
Ms Maart said: “Lyminster is the most amazing school, but when I asked for my son to go there they had him placed at Georgian Gardens, which again is a most fabulous school, but they couldn’t be further apart from each other.
“I live in Hill Road so I live smack bang in the middle.”
To combat this decision, Ms Maart took her case to appeal in August, but at the beginning of the meeting she was told nothing could be done.
She said: “As a single mother I tried in vain to explain that it would be impossible for me to get my children to school on time, as both schools start at the same time. I tried to explain I have no family to help, and the children’s father lives the other side of the country.
“I was told by some rather unempathetic council worker that there were no spaces at my daughter’s school and no place could be made. I feel I should point out that this was at the beginning of the panel meeting, so I feel the appeal was rather just a paper exercise.”
This month, Ms Maart must make the difficult decision of which child’s Christmas nativity to go to as they both take place at the same time.
She said: “Do I watch my sons first nativity as a school child? Or my daughter’s as she has her first role where she speaks? Which child do you feel I should support, and which child can be left without a parent of supporter there?”
In desperation, Ms Maart appealed to Littlehampton MP Nick Gibb, who said he read Ms Maart’s letter ‘with concern’.
He has written to the chief operating officer at the council.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council told the Herald there is a strict criteria to make the selection process ‘fair for all’.
He said: “We appreciate the very difficult situation that Ms Maart is facing and our admissions team has spoken to her again in the last few days to offer advice.
“We always try wherever possible to offer parents a choice over the school their children attend. However, legally, we have to operate strict criteria around applications, catchment areas and waiting lists in order to make the process fair for all.
“We have advised Ms Maart of the options available to her and can confirm that one child is currently on a waiting list, which should result in them eventually attending to the same school as their sibling.”
Ms Maart wrote a letter to the council which said the situation will ‘cause the tears of one very disappointed child’.
She said: “Apparently it wasn’t enough to split two siblings who adore each other.”
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