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Mum's fury over walk to school

PUBLISHED: 16:05 19 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:33 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK mum faces a nightmare SEVEN MILE walk with a double buggy every day - because there is no room for her young daughter at her local school.

Mother-of-three Halie Hartill, 25, needed to move from her two-bedroom rented flat in Melton because it was too cramped for her young family.

A SUFFOLK mum faces a nightmare SEVEN MILE walk with a double buggy every day – because there is no room for her young daughter at her local school.

Mother-of-three Halie Hartill, 25, needed to move from her two-bedroom rented flat in Melton because it was too cramped for her young family.

Suffolk Heritage Housing Association offered her a three-bedroom house in Pembroke Avenue, Woodbridge, and at first she was told that there would be no problem about seven-year-old Skie attending nearby Kyson Primary.

But, to her dismay, after making the move, she discovered the local education authority had made a mistake – and there was no place for her daughter after all.

The family is the latest to be hit by a desperate shortage of school places in Suffolk, revealed in The Evening Star, which has led to many children being shut out of their catchment area schools.

"I filled in the forms and checked before moving that Skie would be able to go to the school," said Ms Hartill, 25, who also has two other children, Billie, nearly three, and baby Brad, nearly one.

"The education authority sent me a letter saying there was a place for her at Kyson, so we were really pleased. But, when I contacted the school, they said the year group was full and there must have been a mistake. I was so upset – I do get very emotional about it.

"The headteacher at Kyson has been really good, but the situation is that Skie doesn't have a school to go to and I am having to keep her at home."

The mum contacted Suffolk County Council's education department. She said they confirmed that a mistake had been made and sent another letter, but this was addressed to her old address in Melton, so there was a delay before she received it.

The letter included a brief apology for the mistake, but said Ms Hartill would have to go on sending Skie to Melton Primary, near her old home.

"I asked if there would be any help with the cost of the transport, but they said no, because it is 1.8 miles, which is just under two miles," said the mum.

"But I don't drive, and it is much too far to walk with all the children and a double buggy. I would have to walk there in the morning to drop Skie, then walk all the way home again with the other two children, and then do the same round trip in the afternoon."

Ms Hartill also asked about New Street Primary, but was told that was also full.

"I think a taxi to Melton and back would cost about £30 a week, and I just can't afford that – I am on working families tax credit," said the mum, who works part-time selling jewellery on party plan.

Ms Hartill is appealing against the decision, but has been told she will have to wait until October before her appeal can be heard.

"Skie is quite bright and I am trying to teach her as best I can," she said. "But it's not just the education she is missing out on. There's also the social side and making friends."

Anna Davidson, Senior Education Officer, said: "A letter was sent to Ms

Hartill in error, and we have already apologised for this and the

misunderstanding it has caused.

"Unfortunately when people move into a particular area after the date for applications we cannot guarantee a place in the local school.

"We understand the frustrations that this can cause parents but we have to make sure that children are taught in safe environments that aren't overcrowded."

She added: "We make every effort to resolve admissions issues with the individual parents concerned, and people are welcome to contact the Pupil Services Team at their local area education office to discuss their situation."

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