School hits back at criticism

St Edmund Arrowsmith High School
St Edmund Arrowsmith High School

A TOP-RATED Wigan school has hit back at watchdog criticisms of its appeals process for primary-aged children denied a place there.

Ashton’s St Edmund Arrowsmith High came under fire from the Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin who identified a number of irregularities after the cases of three local 11-year-olds refused entry was brought to her attention.

She accused the school of “not coming to a firm decision on whether or not the school was full; allowing the presenting officer to make positive personal comments in support of individual children’s circumstances; and not giving clear reasons to families why their children were not being admitted.

The school has agreed to re-hear the three cases that prompted the inquiry but, so far, has refused to open up appeals to all those turned down for a place, as suggested by the ombudsman.

And both headteacher Mark Dumican and Wigan Council today issued forthright responses to the report.

Mr Dumican said: “I would like to point out that the Archdiocese of Liverpool organise an independent appeals panel to hear any appeals brought by parents who have not secured a place in the school for their child. The school states its case why it cannot take any more pupils, the parents then state why the school should take more than their planned admission number.

And a Wigan Council spokesman: “It is then purely up to the independent panel to make the judgement on whether the school should admit the pupil, this decision is not the school’s to make.

“Wigan Council will continue to work with the headteacher of the school and Liverpool Archdiocese with regard to the matters raised by the Local Government Ombudsman.

“During the last year, the Council has clerked in the region of 150 appeals for school across the Wigan area. Out of these, only five parents have made representations to the Local Government Ombudsman, three of these cases have been dismissed.”