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School Places Row 1: Single dad John Peters battles to get children into Mirfield Free Grammar, the school nearest his home

Popular Mirfield Free Grammar already full for September

Indya, and Levi Peters outside Mirfield Free Grammar School, where places have been denied to them, pictured with dad John Peters.

A single dad is battling to get his two children into a new school closest to home.

John Peters, 47, had to move from Salendine Nook to Mirfield in May when the family was made homeless.

The family secured a new housing association home on an estate in Lower Hopton but his application to send son Levi, 12, and daughter Indya, 14, to Mirfield Free Grammar (MFG) has been rejected.

Mr Peters appealed but lost and now faces a costly 18-mile round trip to and from Salendine Nook High School twice a day.

“It’s unfair on my children and I don’t think MFG has taken into account the full circumstances,” said Mr Peters.“We didn’t choose to move to Mirfield and surely children should be allowed to go to their local school.”

Mr Peters told how the family had to leave their Salendine Nook home when the landlord decided to sell the property.

They were classed by Kirklees Council as “homeless” and were eventually offered a housing association property on the former McInerney Homes ‘Heritage’ development in Lower Hopton.As part of the original planning permission McInerney Homes had to make a lump sum payment to Kirklees Council to improve local infrastructure, known as a Section 106 agreement.

A Freedom of Information request found that £235,000 was paid to MFG, now a self-governing academy, to “improve education facilities” in the estate’s catchment area. The money contributed towards the cost of a new technology block.

Mr Peters said: “MFG has had £235,000 from the 106 agreement so surely they have a moral duty to take children from this estate?”

McInerney Homes went bust in 2011 and the site off Woodend Road has been left in the hands of administrators. The 200-home estate remains only partly-built.

Mr Peters said due to family difficulties his children needed a fresh start and had chosen MFG ahead of the town’s other high school – Castle Hall Academy – because of its excellent sports facilities. MFG has a floodlight synthetic pitch and fully-equipped gym.

“Neither of my children is particularly academic but Indya is taking PE in her GCSEs and Levi is a brilliant footballer, runner and swimmer,” said Mr Peters.

Both youngsters have joined the football teams at Battyeford Sporting Club in Mirfield and Levi had previously attracted interest from football scouts.

The entrance to the former McInerney Homes Heritage housing development in Calder View, Lower Hopton, Mirfield.

A council spokesman said: “The council received an education contribution in 2008 from the development at Woodend Road and this was allocated to MFG.

“This part funded a much larger capital investment to upgrade the technology block to ensure sufficient and suitable places were sustained at the school.

“There are enough places at the school for children living in the school’s catchment area, however the school is very popular with families from the surrounding area and as such all the places in the year groups that Mr Peters’ children have applied for have already been filled.

“Unfortunately, when families need to secure a school place outside the normal transition times it can be difficult where the local school is full.

“The council has written to Mr Peters to explain where the nearest schools are with available places that could accommodate his children.

“We are committed to working with the family to consider all options that are available and secure places for September.”

A spokesman for MFG said: “The academy cannot comment on individual admission appeals as they are handled by an Independent Appeals Panel.”

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