A FOUR-YEAR-OLD boy faces being separated from all his playgroup friends after being told he must go to a different York school.

While Jay.d Cameron’s pals can all start at Poppleton Road Primary School in September, he will have to travel a longer distance to St Barnabas Primary School, where he knows no one.

His parents, Jenni and Danny, of Langholme Drive, off Boroughbridge Road, spoke out today after losing an appeal against the City of York Council decision, taken because Poppleton Road is heavily oversubscribed.

Jenni said Jay.d had attended Poppleton Road Playgroup, just around the corner from the primary school, since last September and made many friends, and he had attended “settling in sessions” at the school with others from the playgroup.

“This is really going to confuse him when he realises he isn’t going to go with his friends,” she said. “I feel this decision is really unfair and I’m very unhappy.”

She claimed two other children from her street, living 85 yards closer to Poppleton Road Primary, had been given places, as had another child who lived really close to St Barnabas, even though Poppleton Road was her second choice.

The manager of Jay.d’s playgroup had written in support of their appeal, saying he was a sensitive child whose emotional and social well-being would suffer because he would have no friends at St Barnabas.

Council documents submitted to Jay.d’s appeal show Poppleton Road, with 60 places available in two reception classes, is heavily oversubscribed for next year, with 21 on a waiting list.

The council said since 2001, with certain limited exceptions, no infant class could contain more than 30 pupils.

It said criteria was used to prioritise places when schools were oversubscribed, under which living in the catchment area and having a sibling at a school had a higher priority than living within the closest safe walking route.

It said Jay.d lived 0.734 miles from Poppleton Road School, and places had been offered to children living up to 0.686 miles away. The distance by car from the couple’s home to St Barnabas, checked by The Press, is 1.3 miles, although the journey is a little shorter on foot.

Education bosses defend decision

CITY of York Council today defended its stance on the admission to schools of pupils such as Jay.d.

Mark Ellis, head of education access, said any parent who was unsuccessful in securing their child a place at their preferred school had the right to appeal, and an independent panel listened to all the arguments and each application was judged on its own merits. “However, government guidelines restrict the size of infant classes to no more than 30,” he said.