The family of a Wigan youngster have been left devastated after learning will be separated from his closest friends after missing out on a place at his preferred primary school, despite already attending its nursery.
Andrew Parsonage, a four-year-old attendee of Worsley Mesnes Community Primary’s nursery, was looking forward to starting in reception in September and joining back up with the many friends he has made since starting there in January 2018.
To mum Gillian’s despair, Andrew was unsuccessful in gaining a place at the school, as well as the two back-up options they had listed, due to the family not fitting into the relevant catchment areas.
But not only was Andrew not admitted into any of his preferred Church of England school options, he was instead offered a place at a Catholic primary school miles away from his house, going against the family’s religious preferences.
“We chose Worsley Mesnes school as our first choice because it was the easiest for us to get to and we enrolled him for nursery, which he has attended since January 2018,” said mum Gillian, 42.
“We knew from the offset that there were no guarantees he’d be accepted there, but we wanted to give him the best chance. We researched and chose that school from him being small.
“We have to rely on my mum to drop off and collect him at times, it is seven minutes walk away from her home. It was perfect because she does not drive and has some mobility issues.
From the minute he started, he never looked back. He flourished, matured and built a beautiful network of friends.”
She added: “When the results came through and we saw that we had failed to secure any of the places, we were dumbfounded.
“They fulfilled their obligation to offer Andrew a place - at a Catholic school, an option we thoughtfully omitted from our choices because it’s not his practicing faith and respectfully decline.
“I don’t want what he’s learning to be confused. Andrew does go to church and he is a practising CoE.”
Gillian has vowed to fight the decision “as far as it can go” and is in contact with MP Lisa Nandy.
She said: “I will home school him if I have to and that is the absolute last resort because my son deserves his fair place, inside a school, with other children.
“We at least have a right to give our own views on decisions concerning a significant part of our son’s future.
“I will not accept what is no more than geographical discrimination, because we had lost out before we even started.”
Cath Pealing, interim assistant director for education, said: “We understand there will be some parents and children who feel disappointed that they haven’t been offered a place at their preferred school.
"When a place has been refused because there are no spaces available, the parents have the right to appeal to an independent appeal panel who will consider all information put forward by the parents and local authority.”