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Parents furious after children miss out on local school place

By Rebecca Black

Published 13/06/2016

Mothers with their children who missed out on places at various secondary schools. Photo: Peter Morrison
Mothers with their children who missed out on places at various secondary schools. Photo: Peter Morrison

Mothers have called for a review of the admissions criteria for secondary schools after their children were left without a place.

With just over two months before the start of the new term, some 14 children in east Belfast did not secure a place at any of the schools they applied for.

While the situation is starkest in east Belfast, children across the city and Holywood are also facing the same problem.

The mothers said their children are devastated by the prospect of having to leave friends behind and go to a new school multiple bus trips away.

They have set up an online petition calling for local children to be prioritised in local schools, which has so far been signed by almost 500 people.

Roslyn Millar lives within walking distance of Ashfield Girls School in east Belfast, but her daughter, Amy, did not get a place.

"Amy's first choice was Ashfield. All of her friends that she has been with since P1 are going there. She is devastated," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"She is suffering from anxiety - this has turned her life upside down."

Ms Millar is now faced with sending her daughter on two buses each day to attend either Dundonald High School or Breda Academy.

She has queried why there are not enough places at Ashfield to take all the children from nearby Victoria Park Primary, which her daughter attends.

"I don't understand why kids from further away have got places at Ashfield and my daughter hasn't," she said.

Karen Holmes' daughter Codi is also a pupil at Victoria Park Primary.

"Ashfield was her first choice, then Priory, Bangor Academy and Hazelwood, but she didn't get into any of them," Karen said.

"She only turned 11 in May and I can't imagine sending her on two buses across the city to get to school every day."

Jacqueline Scott's daughter also missed out on a place at Ashfield Girls.

"We thought she would definitely get in. Her older sister goes there and her brother went to Ashfield Boys as did her father and grandfather," she said.

"It broke her heart not getting in."

Michelle Campbell's son, Jack, applied for a place at Ashfield Boys and also missed out.

"We applied to Lagan College, Ashfield and Wellington College and he didn't get in to any of them," she said.

"I have never seen a child crumble the way he did when he got his letter and found out he hadn't got into any of them. He burst into tears."

In the west of the city, Michelle Elliott said her son Ethan did not get a place at their local school - Belfast Boys' Model.

"He applied to the Boys' Model and Hazelwood and didn't get into either of them," she said.

"We live just 10 minutes away from the Boys' Model. We are just at a loss as to where they expect him to go."

Sarah Stitt lives a 10-minute walk away from Priory College in Holywood, but her daughter Caitlin (11) did not get a place there. "She didn't get into Bangor Academy or Lagan College either," she said.

"The only schools left with places are just not practical to get to from Holywood .

"We have no school for her and just don't know what to do."

The Education Authority did not respond to requests for a comment.

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