Wigan mum pledges to home school daughter in places dispute

Steph Pugh with daughters Matilda, five, and Maisie, 11
Steph Pugh with daughters Matilda, five, and Maisie, 11

A furious Wigan family is preparing to home school their daughter after the school admissions process split her up from her sibling.

Steph Pugh and her husband Steven were stunned to be told Maisie, 11, did not have a place at St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School in Ashton even though her brother Bailey is just 18 months older and had got in.

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As the two siblings had attended Holy Family Catholic Primary School in Platt Bridge, which is a feeder school for the Rookery Avenue secondary, they had assumed there would be no difficulty with Maisie getting a place.

Worse, though, Maisie was also turned down for her second option Golborne High School and instead offered a place at Dean Trust Rose Bridge in Ince.

Steph says this would leave her in an impossible position trying to get three children to three different schools and she does not believe the public transport is adequate for Maisie to get to Ince from the family’s Abram home safely.

She says she has since discovered Bailey, 12, getting into St Edmund Arrowsmith was something of an unlikely one-off last year but said parents were not told this or that their younger siblings would be unlikely to be able to join them there.

And she and Steven are so unhappy with the outcome of the admissions process they are taking the drastic step of rejecting the DeanTrust Rose Bridge and teaching Maisie themselves.

Steph, 32, said: “We can’t have three children in three different schools in three different areas for the next four years.

“We were told St Edmund Arrowsmith was oversubscribed but last year for Bailey it was a bit of a fluke and everyone who applied got in. However, the previous parents weren’t told this.

“If she had got in at Golborne that would at least have been in the right direction for Ashton and Platt Bridge as well.

“It’s two buses to Dean Trust Rose Bridge and she would have to walk for 20 minutes from the middle of Ince. They think that’s acceptable.

“There’s nothing we can do so we’ve made the decision to home school her and hope a place becomes available at St Edmund Arrowsmith.”

Steph and Andrew appealed Maisie’s placement but were unsuccessful.

She spoke of the toll the ordeal has had on the family and her daughter, who is also a very keen dancer, missing out on the social aspects of going to secondary school.

She said: “It has been heartbreaking. Luckily we’re in a position where I can home school her but it’s awful.

“All of Maisie’s classmates except five are going to St Edmund Arrowsmith. They’ve had two taster days when they’ve all gone there and I’ve kept Maisie at home.

“It has really affected her. She’s sad to be missing out on all the new friends her friends are making and they will be at school while she’s stuck at home with me.

“She should have a social life at school as well as through her dancing.”

Steph said she was reluctant to send Maisie to Rose Bridge as in its last Ofsted inspection before it was taken over by The Dean Trust it was inadequate, while St Edmund Arrowsmith is rated good.

She said: “Bailey and Maisie have been together at school year after year. How can I not give them both the same chance?”

Wigan Council said it was sympathetic to the plight of parents who do not get the desired outcome but admissions criteria are set by individual schools.

Cath Pealing, assistant director for education, said: “As a local authority it’s our responsibility to coordinate admissions on behalf of schools and ensure that all children are offered a secondary school place.

“However, individual schools determine their own admissions criteria.

“We do understand how upsetting and frustrating this can be for our families when they are not allocated a place at their preferred schools and we will offer support and advice to any parent who needs it.

“Parents do have the right to appeal but the panels are independent and the local authority cannot overturn these decisions.”