Weeting mother’s anger at admissions policy that will send her sons to separate schools

School Admissions Policy problem for Weeting Family. 'LtoR, Ollie Webber (8), Gemma Inns, Asa Webber (6 months), Jenson Webber (4) ANL-150406-121955009
School Admissions Policy problem for Weeting Family. 'LtoR, Ollie Webber (8), Gemma Inns, Asa Webber (6 months), Jenson Webber (4) ANL-150406-121955009
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Education leaders are not doing enough to tackle an admissions crisis at a West Norfolk village school, a parent has claimed.

Gemma Inns says she is one of several parents who have been told their children cannot have places at the Edmund de Moundeford school in Feltwell this September, even though they already have older siblings there.

Officials say that, while the school is popular, they do not believe they can afford the costs of providing additional places.

But Miss Inns, who lives in Weeting, said the situation was “absurd” and claimed the authorities had failed to anticipate and plan for the growth in demand.

She said: “We do not think we are being listened to.”

Miss Inns’ eight-year-old son, Ollie Webber, has been a pupil at the Feltwell school for almost four years.

But his four-year-old brother Jenson, who is due to start school this autumn, has been allocated a place at the Weeting primary school instead. Miss Inns has appealed against that decision.

Richard Snowden, head of Norfolk County Council’s admissions service, said Jenson was one of nine children who are currently on a waiting list for places at the Feltwell school.

He said admissions policies were designed to ensure that children can attend the nearest schools to where they live.

He added: “We understand that parents are disappointed when they don’t receive their first choice and we always strongly advise them to apply for places in their local primary schools to reduce the chance of not getting a place in the nearby area.

“If they’re not successful, we always write to advise them of their options, including the right of appeal.

“All children will have been offered a place at an alternative school.”

But Miss Inns believes the decision could cost her thousands of pounds in childcare costs over the coming year.

She said: “I work in Feltwell and my childminder (who cares for her youngest son Asa) is in Feltwell.

“I’m looking at another £18 per day for Jenson and the costs of collecting him.”

She believes the problems at the Feltwell school are being made worse by the admission of children from families who live on the nearby US air base at RAF Feltwell.

American children do not begin full-time education until they reach the age of six and Miss Inns said she and several other parents have called for an additional reception class to be created in order to accommodate everyone who wants to send their children to the school.

She said their campaign has been supported by school governors, parish councillors and other parents.

But Mr Snowden said: “The school’s governors recently wrote to all parents who hadn’t been successful in their applications, to explain the reasons why they feel that the school is not in a position to increase the number of admissions and that they have to comply with the strict limits on infant school class sizes.

“In a nutshell, they believe the school doesn’t have enough resources to afford the ongoing running costs for a new class.”

But Miss Inns said part of the £144 million set aside to improve school buildings in Norfolk, which was approved by the county council last month, should be made available to Feltwell.

She also claims the authority has not planned for future housing developments in the area.