Mum’s anguish as twin girls given different school places

Mum Sharon Barney with twins Kerri, left, and Holly, 11, who are upset at having to attend separate schools. Picture: OX66495 David Fleming

Mum Sharon Barney with twins Kerri, left, and Holly, 11, who are upset at having to attend separate schools. Picture: OX66495 David Fleming Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

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.

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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.

Comments (6)

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12:18am Sat 19 Apr 14

Feelingsmatter says...

Send them both to Fitz. Chances are in a couple of years John Mason won't be the "Hot School" in Abingdon and everyone will be clamoring for places at Fitz.
Send them both to Fitz. Chances are in a couple of years John Mason won't be the "Hot School" in Abingdon and everyone will be clamoring for places at Fitz. Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 13

7:00pm Sat 19 Apr 14

shippondame says...

I totally sympathise with this parent, as well as the children. After submitting my child's application for a place at the nearest primary school, nine months in advance of term start in September, I received a telephone call from an individual in the school who introduced themselves as, 'the admissions officer,' informing me it was a waste of time applying for a place at the school as all places were 'reserved.'
As I live 57 paces from this school and worked for the county council, I was somewhat taken aback. When I explained where I lived and which department I worked in the county council, I was still told there was no chance of a place. I took the matter up with the relevant individual at the county council.
Guess what? My child's application for a place was refused! Luck of the draw I was told. I have a different interpretation.
I totally sympathise with this parent, as well as the children. After submitting my child's application for a place at the nearest primary school, nine months in advance of term start in September, I received a telephone call from an individual in the school who introduced themselves as, 'the admissions officer,' informing me it was a waste of time applying for a place at the school as all places were 'reserved.' As I live 57 paces from this school and worked for the county council, I was somewhat taken aback. When I explained where I lived and which department I worked in the county council, I was still told there was no chance of a place. I took the matter up with the relevant individual at the county council. Guess what? My child's application for a place was refused! Luck of the draw I was told. I have a different interpretation. shippondame
  • Score: -7

7:06pm Sat 19 Apr 14

shippondame says...

If the John Mason School is outside the catchment area for Wootton, where the girls are reported to live, it can only be by approximately 250 metres, given the distance along the Wootton Road in Abingdon between the two schools mentioned!
Given the girls are twins, surely this must count for something? Where has the flexibility gone in the thinking?
If the John Mason School is outside the catchment area for Wootton, where the girls are reported to live, it can only be by approximately 250 metres, given the distance along the Wootton Road in Abingdon between the two schools mentioned! Given the girls are twins, surely this must count for something? Where has the flexibility gone in the thinking? shippondame
  • Score: 1

10:28pm Sat 19 Apr 14

abingdongal says...

This happened to my twins, they both were placed in separate school and I was so concerned, but actually it was the best thing ... they were both known as individuals and not so and so`s twin. It made them much more independent and confident as they had to cope with life solo as other kids do. Also if one child has special needs this will allow them to develop into a stronger adult and be less dependent on her twin, whilst the other twin can also develop their own identity. It can be beneficial in the long run.. but good luck
This happened to my twins, they both were placed in separate school and I was so concerned, but actually it was the best thing ... they were both known as individuals and not so and so`s twin. It made them much more independent and confident as they had to cope with life solo as other kids do. Also if one child has special needs this will allow them to develop into a stronger adult and be less dependent on her twin, whilst the other twin can also develop their own identity. It can be beneficial in the long run.. but good luck abingdongal
  • Score: 20

8:04pm Sun 20 Apr 14

tinsel84 says...

Why is it any worse for twins to be separated than any other siblings? I'm not having a go, just curious.
Why is it any worse for twins to be separated than any other siblings? I'm not having a go, just curious. tinsel84
  • Score: 7

8:18pm Wed 23 Apr 14

Reality_24/7 says...

Some kids in the world would do anything to even have the opportunity to go to school. The very fact that the twins have the gift of education should make you happy. Different schools or not.
Some kids in the world would do anything to even have the opportunity to go to school. The very fact that the twins have the gift of education should make you happy. Different schools or not. Reality_24/7
  • Score: 2

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