A mum is fuming after her children were denied places in the same secondary school – despite being twins.
Jacqueline Brookes, 40,said she is “devastated” after her twins – who have never been apart – were sent to schools more than six miles apart, in different towns.
The mum-of-four applied for three nearby schools for ten-year-old Leon and Tiggy, but but they didn’t get in to any of them and now face dangerous solo commutes from September.
Jacqueline, from Worthing, West Sussex, has appealed the decision and said she would rather home-school the twins than have them torn apart.
More than 600,000 families across England and Wales were told on Friday which secondary school their children would attend – but an increasing number of parents and pupils are being left disappointed.
As many as one in four families did not get their first preference in England last week.
Jacqueline’s twins broke down in tears when they learned the news – it would take more than two hours to walk from Leon’s assigned school to Tiggy’s.
The single mum said: “I opened the letter on Friday and called the twins over.
“I was expecting their faces to light up and for it to be an amazing day but they ended up in tears – they were devastated.
“It’s shocking, Leon is going to a school in Worthing that had a bad Ofsted report and Tiggy is going to a school in Angmering near where a child was stabbed recently.
“And you have to walk up a dual carriageway to get there – there is no way I’m letting my ten-year-olds walk up a dual carriageway.
“The two of them have been together since birth and nine months in the womb before that.
“Secondary school is hard enough – they could be each others’ rocks but have been put on opposite ends of the town.
“There is no way I will let this happen, if they can’t go to school together I’ll take them out and home-school them.”
The council has claimed more than 96 per cent of children got their chosen school but Jacqueline slammed this as “rubbish”.
She said: “I was speaking to a parent from Goring Primary, where the twins go, and she thinks only five children got their chosen school so that is absolute rubbish.”
Jacqueline said the pair had never been apart and feared for the effect it could have on her son.
She said: “My daughter is the leader, so if they were split up it would be devastating for my son. He relies on her. What she says, he does – she is the lead twin.
“My son suffers from anxiety and there’s no way he can travel all that way on the train on his own. He would be a nervous, gibbering wreck by the time he got home.
“They would both be going home in the dark on their own in winter. It’s not even entertainable.”
Jacqueline works as a full-time carer for her six-year-old son Aston, who has special needs, and cannot drive so doing the school run herself is out of the question.
She said: “My children are still 10 years old – they’re two of the youngest in their year and only turn 11 in June.
“No parent would let an 11-year-old travel that far on their own. It’s just not acceptable. I’m not going to take this lying down.”
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “The vast majority of applicants – 96.5 per cent – were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, with 84.2 per cent given their first preference.
“A small number were not able to be offered one of their preferences.
“This could be for a number of reasons and we do appreciate how disappointing this can be for these families.
“This year we processed a total of 9,099 applications, an increase of nearly 400 from 2018, with every child offered a place to start secondary school in September 2019.
“The allocation in the borough of Worthing has been carried out in accordance with our published arrangements, the School Admissions Code and school over -subscription criteria.
“Some schools have been heavily over-subscribed and in some cases it has not been possible to meet any of the three preferences made by applicants.
“Where this happens the Local Authority has a duty to allocate a place at the catchment school if space allows, or where the catchment school is full, the nearest school with a space available.
“Applicants refused a place at a school will automatically be placed on that schools waiting list after March 29, 2019.
“Parents refused the school of their preference also have the right of appeal, full information about appealing for a school place can be found on the county council’s website.”
A council has hit back at claims it separated twins saying the option was open to them to go to the same school.
Jacqueline Brookes, 40, said she was “devastated” after her twins – who have never been apart – were offered places at schools more than six miles apart, in different towns.
The mum-of-four from Worthing, West Sussex, applied for three nearby schools for ten-year-old Leon and Tiggy, but they didn’t get in to any of them.
She said the pair face dangerous solo commutes from September
The three schools Jacqueline applied for were Durrington High School, Chatsmore Catholic High School, and Bohunt School – all rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.
But the schools the twins were allocated were St Andrew’s C.E. High School for Boys and Angmering School – both of which are rated ‘requires improvement’.
The teaching at St Andrew’s was described as “not consistently good” and inspectors said “teachers do not provide enough challenge for the most able pupils or give sufficient focus and support for low-attaining pupils”.
Inspectors at Angmering School said “too many groups of pupils have not made the progress expected of them for their age” and that it was “particularly the case for disadvantaged pupils”.
Jacqueline has appealed the decision and said she would rather home-school the twins than have them torn apart by the council’s decision but West Sussex County Council today (Mon) said it offered the twins the option to go the same school.
A spokesman said: “A letter was sent to Leon and Teagan’s parents on March 1 offering places at their nearest schools with space, in line with the Admissions Code and oversubscription criteria.
“We were not able to offer the children a place at one of their three preferred schools.
“This letter was clear that if the parents want the twins to go to the same secondary school, they should contact the Admissions Team as this could be offered at The Angmering School.
“We always give the option for parents with twins or multiples to go to the same school where possible, as in this case.
“The vast majority of West Sussex applicants 96.5 per cent were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, with 84.2 per cent given their first preference.
“A small number were not able to be offered one of their preferences.
“This could be for a number of reasons and we do appreciate how disappointing this can be for these families.”
Jacqueline said: “The problem still remains – two young 11-year-olds travelling all the way to Angmering on their own.
“The catchment school is Durrington and that’s a stone’s throw away – if it’s over subscribed it’s not my fault.
“If they don’t change the decision I will pull them out if school I refuse to let them travel that distance alone – they’re very vulnerable and if anything happens the buck will stop with the school.”
She added: “They want to put my twins in Angmering, a failing school no one wants to be in.”
Chatsmore Catholic High school, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, was one of the twins’ preferred schools and is just half a mile from their home.
Head of admission at Chatsmore Catholic High School, Karen Godfrey said: “The selection is something that’s done independently from the school. We send the preferences to West Sussex County Council and they allocate the spaces – the council then sends us the list pf pupils in September.”
Although Mrs Godfrey could not reveal how far the twins were from getting a place at the school, she said they “weren’t far off”.
She said: “My feeling is that the weren’t far off getting a place, they might still depending on how things go.
“It’s awful to see twins separated – and they live just half a mile away. I would encourage any parents whose children haven’t been offered any of their preferences to appeal the decision.
“Unfortunately, the way the system works, pupils who have us down as their second choice get preference over a child who has us down as their first – a child who could live just across the road from the school.”
Worthing’s Durrington High School and Bohunt School declined to comment because “the council is responsible” for admissions.