A GROUP of parents have kept their children at home for two weeks and are refusing to send them to school – claiming it's a "dangerous dumping ground".
Families in Wythenshawe, Manchester, have been left disappointed by the school places their kids have been given and are now refusing to accept the offer.
Despite living in south Manchester and falling under Manchester City Council, the parents have applied for school places in neighbouring Trafford.
The desired schools include at Sale High School, Altrincham College and Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College – which are all overseen by Trafford Council.
One of the parents, Angela Davies, says her daughter Masie went to Lime Tree Primary Academy in Sale and there "was never any indication there would be an issue going from a Trafford primary to a high school".
It comes after getting a place at a Trafford school in previous years was never a problem.
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However she, along with up to 40 others from the same area – some with siblings attending secondaries in Trafford – have been offered places at Manchester Academy in Moss Side, reports Manchester Evening News
The families say it is unreasonable to expect their children to travel around five miles and they have "serious safeguarding concerns" about the school where a 14-year-old pupil was stabbed in the neck during an exam last December.
Angela, from Baguley, said: "We attended all the open evenings for Trafford schools and picked our top three – Altrincham College, Sale High and Wellington School.
"I thought if we don't get those, we'll presumably get a local school closer to home, but then we were offered one five miles away in Moss Side.
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"When I first opened the letter I thought it was for Manchester Health Academy, which has now changed its name to Dixons Brooklands Academy, as that's just up the road, but then I realised how far away this one is."
Angela has since joined a Facebook group with around 60 other parents.
The group was set up by dad Wayne Cribbin, whose daughter Lilly also attended Lime Tree Primary Academy.
He applied for Blessed Thomas Holford Catholic College, Sale High School and Didsbury High School, but was also offered Manchester Academy.
Like Maise, Lilly is also at home instead of starting Year 7.
Wayne said: "We failed in our applications and went through the appeals process and it became abundantly clear that if your child comes from a stable home then they go to the back of the queue.
"We were allocated a school which would involve our daughter setting off an hour and a half early to ensure she gets to school on time, yet we have two high schools within 10 minutes walk from home.
"It seems there is a large gap in the school allocations and the closing of Newall Green High School last year has not been taken into consideration and children from M22/M23 [postcodes] are being allocated a school which would fail to be within the admissions criteria on distance should it be the other way round, but it appears to be a suitable dumping ground for a problem of their making.
The school allocated has real safeguarding issues and that is one of many reasons why myself and other parents are refusing to send our children
"The school allocated has real safeguarding issues and that is one of many reasons why myself and other parents are refusing to send our children."
A school in Manchester was forced to close last year because of decreasing student numbers and poor Ofsted reports.
Manchester City Council acknowledges that the loss of Newall Green High has increased the demand on school places and says that's why it objected to the Government-imposed closure in 2020.
But a new school – Dixons Newall Green Academy – will open in September next year to help with the demand.
For parents like Angela and Wayne, they feel their children have been badly let down.
Angela added: "They had all the data regarding the high birth rates and projected increase in secondary school places required.
"They should have had plans in place to increase school places in our regions to accommodate these projections.
"I understand it’s not always possible to get your preferred choices, but their lack of forward planning has resulted in many parents including myself being offered a very unreasonable alternative offer."
The council tried helping with the demand for places by opening up 100 more at the three local high schools but they have all been filled already.
Councillor Garry Bridges, executive member for early years, children and young people at Manchester City Council, said: “We understand the disappointment felt by families and children who have been offered a school place that isn’t one they chose or that is nearest to their home.
"Unfortunately, schools in Manchester are in very high demand and there is a particular shortage of high school places in Year 7 in Wythenshawe.
"This is due to the government decision to close Newall Green High School – a decision we fought very strongly at the time because we knew it would lead to shortages of places for local families.
"We're now seeing the consequences of that wrong decision.
"We have continued to lobby the DfE about the shortage of places in the area since the school was closed, and as a result they have agreed that their recently approved new free school for the area, Dixons Newall Green Academy, will open a year early, next September 2023.
"We welcome this as it will very much improve the situation in the area, though sadly not in time for these pupils.
"When parents living in Manchester apply for a school place in Trafford or any other local authority area, this isn't something we have any control over.
"If a parent doesn't succeed in getting a place at an out of area school and hasn't named a Manchester school on their application form – something we always advise parents to do – then it can mean, as in the case of many of these families, that they lose out on a place at their local school as places will have already been allocated to other families.
"Unfortunately this means that although we understand parents' frustrations, there is little more that we can do.
"We fully accept Manchester Academy is further away than some families would like, but have also offered free travel passes to help get them there.
We do not however accept any suggestion that this is a school that is not safe
"We do not however accept any suggestion that this is a school that is not safe. It has a robust culture of safeguarding and community, coupled with strong leadership and an aspirational education offer that is very much appreciated by students and their families.
"It also has a good track record of supporting pupils from both within the local community and across the city, and along with the council will do everything possible to make the transition for pupils to their new high school as easy as it can be and to support families in this.”
A spokesperson for Manchester Academy said: "The parents' disagreement is with the council, not the academy, and we understand their frustration at not being offered places at schools local to their area.
"Safeguarding is effective, however, at Manchester Academy, we are a happy and thriving school and are very willing to welcome families to see for themselves why we are proud of our academy and community.
"Likewise, we always speak directly to parents who express any concerns, to reassure them that although we may not have been the school they chose, their child will be safe and happy here and will be made very welcome."
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