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Our shoddy school transfer process fails miserably

Published 04/09/2015

As the start of the school year is upon us, a lot of parents - myself included - are very concerned about our children's future. Over the summer months, we have fought, attended appeals and waited with crossed fingers that our children would get a place in their preferred school. Sadly - for most of us - this hasn't happened.

I'm one of the lucky ones; my child actually has a place in a school within bus distance (five miles from our home). However, this hasn't been without its own heartache.

We initially applied for my daughter to attend Ashfield Girls; this school is within a mile of our home and her brother attends Ashfield Boys. Regrettably, the school was oversubscribed and my daughter was offered a place in Breda Academy - the only person in her primary school to be excluded from admittance to a local school. We, of course, appealed the decision, but were rejected.

Through our involvement with the shoddy school transfer process, one thing became clear: the transfer system is broken. My daughter is the youngest of two children, with an older brother. Ashfield's admission criteria is: (1) a sister who attends and/or a mother who has attended the school, (2) the first in the family to attend a non-selective school, (3) distance, and (4) a brother who attends Ashfield Boys.

The fact that she has an older brother who attends Ashfield Boys means that she does not meet criteria 1 or 2. The school was so oversubscribed that they did not get beyond those two criteria.

If she had an older sister, or had no older siblings at all, she would have met the criteria. My daughter is being discriminated against for having siblings and having siblings of a different sex.

She now faces a five-mile journey - on her own - to a school where she knows no one. I know there is little that can be done about my daughter's situation, but parents cannot go through this again next year.

PARENT

Belfast

Belfast Telegraph

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