A CHILD has been refused a place at a faith school two doors away from her home – and she is a practising Catholic.
Angel’s mum, Annabelle Taylor, now faces taking her three children to three different schools in September.
Her eldest Cameron, 11, is starting at St Thomas More High School, in Westcliff.
Sapphire, seven, is a pupil at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, in Windermere Road, Southend where they live.
But despite being a churchattending Catholic and living so nearby, as well as – at the time of applying – having two siblings at Sacred Heart, Angel was refused a place.
The five-year-old will instead be going to Bournemouth Park Primary a mile away, in Bournemouth Park Road, Southend.
Annabelle said: “I’ll have to take Sapphire in ten minutes early and leave her in the playground.
“I had to do that the last two terms with Cameron and Sapphire. Then I’ll walk Angel down to her school.
“But Cameron will have to get the contract bus. I’d prefer to take him myself, at least for the first week. It’s a big thing when you’re 11 and he’s not exactly streetwise.
“Angel is at the top of the waiting list for Sacred Heart, but we are waiting for someone to leave.
“It would make life less stressful, if she was there. She also has a lot of friends there as she went to nursery there.”
Their situation is complicated by the fact Angel has recently had surgery to correct developmental dysplasia of the hip, which causes one leg to be shorter than the other.
She is only just beginning to walk again after being in restrictive casts for three months. The family go to mass at Sacred Heart Church at least every fortnight.
The application form asks parents if they attend church weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Annabelle said: “I was being honest and said fortnightly, but we often make it more. It’s disappointing.
There just aren’t enough faith schools or places in Southend. Other schools are expanding, but faith schools aren’t.”
Annabelle appealed the decision, but lost.
Sacred Heart received 96 applications for 30 places.
James Courtenay, councillor responsible for children and learning at Southend Council, said: “There is a squeeze on primary places. We are very conscious of having primary places in the right areas.
“Year on year, the number of people getting their first or second choice school is going up dramatically. The admission criteria for local authority schools has a significant weighting on siblings already being in a school, but each school has its own criteria.”