Change demanded as West Winch girl is denied place at her own village’s school

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A little girl is facing an 8.5 mile round trip to school after being denied a place at her village primary - less than a mile from her home.

Imogen Roythorne, four, is one of two children in West Winch who did not get a place at the oversubscribed village school and will have to travel to Watlington.

Imogen’s dad Mark Roythorne, 36, said: “I understand why they limit the number of children per class however perhaps there needs to be a little bit of leeway. They say they want children to bike and walk to school, but this makes a mockery of it.”

Imogen’s mother Laura’s family have lived in the village for 60 years - in the home where they now live in Westland Chase.

The family are appealing the decision but have been warned there is little chance of success. The school has followed its admissions policy, giving priority to siblings of current pupils and then in order of who lives closest.

All of Imogen’s pre-school friends will be going West Winch Primary School, whilst she is now having settling in sessions in Watlington.

Alexandra Kemp, county councillor for the area, said: “It may take a change in education policy or a change in the law. Whatever it takes, I believe unquestionably that the offer of a school place for every local child is the right way to deliver public services.

“This is not in the best interests of children, as it deprives young people of the health benefits and independence of walking to school, of playing the fullest part in their local community, of progressing from nursery to primary school in the company of their friends, and of the chance to participate in after-school clubs as much.”

Miss Kemp said the situation highlighted why West Winch did not have the infrastructure to support controversial proposed new housing development.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “The vast majority of parents who live in West Winch Primary School’s catchment area and applied to the school as their first preference have been offered a reception place in September.

“However, the school was oversubscribed so two sets of parents unfortunately did miss out on a place for their child in their catchment school.

“We were able to offer alternative local school places to both children and these two families are at the top of the waiting list.”