Rotherham parents having “sleepless nights” after children living within catchment not offered places at Waverley Junior Academy

Rotherham parents are devastated after 21 children living within the catchment were not offered a place at Waverley Junior Academy.

Rotherham Council use a national formula to calculate the number of places likely to be required in each area, and they originally thought that they had over provided the number of places at the school by over 25%.

However, the new Waverley housing development has far exceeded forecasted demand, particularly for infant and pre school age groups.

Waverley Junior Academy is one of two primary schools planned for the Waverley development. As of February 2022, there were 1,354 houses occupied on the Waverley estate which, applying the nationally recognised formula for calculating school places, should generate a pupil yield of around 38 per year group.

The developer met their obligation for Waverley Junior Academy to accommodate 60 children which, typically, would be sufficient to meet demand for 2,000 homes. But an unusually high number of children are living at the Waverley development which means exceeded demand, with around 60-90 children living in the catchment area.

Mum-of-two and Waverley estate resident Bethany McNeil, said that her eldest daughter being placed at a school two miles away is “causing me sleepless nights.”

Ms McNeil continues that “she knows its not the developers fault but when we moved here we were sold the idea of there being a school” adding that she’s “devastated we have to do this to her” when speaking of telling her daughter Darcy.

Rotherham Council’s Assistant Director for Education and Inclusion, Nathan Heath, said that 95.3% of children in Rotherham have been offered a place at their first choice Primary or Junior School. Mr Heath also said that In light of the unprecedented demand they are speaking to the developer to review agreements in place but that sadly any extra capacity this may create won’t be in place in time for children starting school in September.

Mr Heath adds that wherever possible they have been offered places at their second and third preference schools, all within two miles of their home.

“It’s in all our interests to ensure children have access to a good school close to home and we’re sorry that, due to expectational circumstances, some Waverley parents have not been offered their first preference school” He continued.

The MP for Rother Valley, Alexander Stafford, acknowledged that it is upsetting and distressing for parents.

The MP said: “The council housing policy should be about developing sustainable communities, that is at the heart of national and local housing strategy. To allow a community the size of Waverley to develop without the services to support the population is a failure of Rotherham council’s housing and planning policy.

He continues “The issue of lack of amenities and services in Waverley is not new. The undoubted success of house building has not been matched by an appropriate level of services for the population. Besides the inadequate number of primary school spaces, there is no medical centre and the plans for a public transport hub seems to have vanished.”

Mr Stafford is holding a meeting tonight for parents to discuss the issue further and see what assistance can be provided for them.

Any parent or carer whose child is refused a place at the academy can appeal against the decision not to offer a place, but appeals are heard by an independent panel and the decisions the panel make are legally binding on all parties.

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