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School system failed all my FOUR children'

PUBLISHED: 15:29 11 March 2009 | UPDATED: 16:17 25 August 2010

FURIOUS: Malcolm with Connor.

FURIOUS: Malcolm with Connor.

A DAD has slammed the schools admissions system claiming all FOUR of his children have been failed by the process.

A DAD has slammed the schools admissions system claiming all FOUR of his children have been failed by the process.

Malcolm Holmes, 51, of Townley Road, Bexleyheath, has had all of his children placed in schools miles from where they live.

Now he faces yet another battle as he is set to appeal to the Bexley and Kent local authorities to get his youngest son, Connor, into one of his top choice schools.

Mr Holmes said: "We have been let down time and again.

"I am on to the last child now, thank God, but every time that transition to secondary school came up, we would think 'Please let it go okay this time' but we have been let down four times over."

The family first felt let down by Bexley council when there were no schools in the borough that could cater for the special educational needs of their eldest son James, now 22. So they relocated to Dartford so that he could start his secondary schooling at Leigh City Technology College, Dartford. There was no sibling preference at the school so the second oldest Katie, now 19, was given a place three miles away at Hextable School in Swanley.

The family then moved back to Bexleyheath by the time their third child John, now 15, was given a place at Bexleyheath School. But his concerned parents took him out of the school after hearing of troubling lack of discipline at the school, getting him a place at Hextable. He is due to leave this year to go to a sixth-form college as the A Levels at his school, his family say, aren't specialist enough for his chosen career.

However, Connor has been handed a place at his fourth choice, Hextable, nearly five miles away from his top choices of Beths School, Wilmington Grammar and Hurstmere School.

Mr Holmes said: "Dropping the kids off at school can cause a three-hour round trip, having Connor at Hextable would be adding another hour, if we'relucky, on the school run or it would mean them getting up to three buses.

"The kids usually settle down at school and all of them are doing really well but not being given our choice of school for each child has been a real problem."

The amount of parents appealing against admissions rulings across the county is set to increase from the 80,000 lodged in previous years. It follows warnings that many parents, hit by the recession, are opting for grammar or faith-based schools rather than private education.

A spokesman for Bexley council: "We are sorry that Connor and his family feel they have been let down. Connor was offered a place at Hextable as that was his fourth preference on his application form.

"Connor's first and second choice were selective schools. Connor would have known his Bexley tests results and his chances of getting a place before applying for Beths Grammar School.

"Wilmington Grammar School is a KCC school and we cannot respond on its behalf but it may have been the case that Connor did not pass the KCC selection test.

"His third choice, Hurstmere Foundation School for Boys, admits pupils on a banding system but we understand that the Holmes family live further from the school than places could be offered in his band.

"We do our best to make parents aware of the admissions procedures for all the borough's schools including issuing every parent with a information booklet which is also on our website: at:http://www.bexley.gov.uk/service/schools/secondary/admissions.html.

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