VOTE: Power to Pagham parents in school battle

Battling Pagham parents have won a legal fight to enable their children to be educated in their nearest school.

The Pagham Parents’ Group has been backed by an education watchdog in its members’ determination to ensure their boys and girls can go to school in Rose Green.

The Schools’ Adjudicator, with powers equal to a High Court judge, has ruled West Sussex County Council broke the law in the way in which it limited admissions to Rose Green Infant School.

Jill Pullen said the council was in breach of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 with its policy which restricted children joining the school.

The act also means the council has to revise its admissions scheme as soon as possible, she stated.

The county council had admitted liability for breaking the admissions code.

One of the group’s founders, Dawn Salter, said: “We are very pleased about this. It’s basically common sense. We knew the council had done something wrong. But we were parents who had read the admissions code.

“To have that backed up by a court of law, which is what Ms Pullen is, is fantastic.”

The judgment will affect 12 families who wanted their children to attend the Hawkins Close school in September 2013.

The Observer reported the anger of the group last April that their children were unable to go there.

They are being driven past it from their homes to Nyewood C of E Infant School in which they were allocated places.

They argued the county council’s line within which admissions would only be accepted for the Rose Green school was wrongly drawn because it excluded a chunk of Pagham.

Mrs Salter, of Webb Close, reported the recent triumph to Pagham Parish Council.

She said she was sure the admissions line would be redrawn but written confirmation of that had yet to be received.

However, the success had come too late for eight families whose children had been refused the right to start at the school last week.

“We have eight families who have resigned themselves to their children going to other schools,” she said. “They are forking out a fortune. One parent has had to give up work because she can’t get her child to school and keep her job.”

Cllr Mike Coleman (Con, Nyetimber) said a meeting was being held with Rose Green infant and junior schools tonight to discuss the matter.

“We will be trying to come up with a solution for next year’s intake.

The situation will continue otherwise. It will not get any better. So, we are desperately trying to find a solution,” he said.

It was hoped the infant and junior schools, on separate sites, would become one entity.

This would enable children to move seamlessly between them rather than risk having to go to Bognor when they became juniors.

What do you think?

Is the West Sussex schools admissions policy fair to parents and children? Cast your vote in the poll to the right of the screen and leave your comments below.