Half of area's pupils missing out on chosen school

1 month ago 31

Shamis Aden

Image caption,

Shamis Aden's son was among those who missed out on their first choice school

By Owain Evans & Miriam Barker

BBC News

Children in one of Cardiff's most deprived communities are struggling for a place at their first choice of secondary school.

Only 49% of children in Butetown were offered a place at their top choice for this September, compared with 88% across the city as a whole.

One in five did not get a place in any of their first three choices.

Cardiff council said it was experiencing high intakes like many other local authorities.

When choosing a secondary school, parents in Cardiff are asked to select five schools in order of preference.

Before the appeals process started, 42 children across the Fitzalan High School catchment area did not have a place for September.

Shamis Aden's son was one of those and she said she appealing the decision.

"If you walk to Fitzalan it's 15 minutes away. What is the catchment area for here? That's what I want to know," she said.

"For children born in Grangetown and Butetown where are they supposed to go? It's unfair."

Faisa Ege's eldest child is already at Fitzalan, but her second has been refused.

She usually lives in Butetown, but is currently in temporary accommodation in another part of the city.

"I've got my three children going to three different schools, I can't run between three different schools. I'm a single parent who is working," she said.

"Their cousins all go to Fitzalan and I have a network there who can help pick my children up for me."

Image caption,

Faisa Ege will have children at three different schools after her second child was not given a place at the same secondary as her eldest

Omar Yusuf's said he was "devastated" his son did not get a space.

"He worries about it a lot," he said.

"It's been more of an issue since they've had a new school with more children from other areas going there."

He added the council was pushing him to send his son to Willows High School in the Tremorfa area, but he said it was "difficult to get to".

Gavin Porter went to Fitzalan, like most of his family.

When his eldest son was refused a place in his first three choice schools, he appealed, but in the end he decided to send his three boys to the fee-paying Cardiff Steiner School.

"A lot of people from Butetown are from different cultural backgrounds so they have to deal with institutional racism, crime, all these issues are stacked up against our young people and then on top of that there's education," he said.

Helen Gunter, a councillor for the Butetown ward, said the situation was "unacceptable".

"I'm deeply concerned that a higher than average percentage of children in Butetown are not offered places in their nearest secondary school," she said.

"Instead, they are split from their friends across several different schools.

"It's important that all children have the same educational opportunities wherever they live in the city, and also that they can enjoy the freedom to walk or cycle to school, and take part in after school activities."

Image caption,

Only 49% of children in Butetown got into their top choice of school for September

Ms Gunter said she was working with other council cabinet members to address the situation and was "committed" to resolving the issue.

Cardiff council said it was supporting families by permanently or temporarily expanding its secondary schools in recent years.

It added it worked with local communities "to encourage parents to use all of the five preferences available to them so that they are not at a disadvantage when applying for a secondary school place".

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