A MOTHER is “devastated” that her daughter has been refused a place at the village school where she works – and claims she is a victim of an economic divide.
Jayne Hodgson, 41, was born and bred in the centre of Denby Dale and devotes two days a week to working as a voluntary teaching assistant at Gilthwaites First School. She is also the school’s cleaner.
As soon as daughter Brooke, now four, was born, she was registered for a place at Gilthwaites and for the past two years has attended the village nursery which last year federated with the school.
But Jayne and husband Andrew, who live near the viaduct on Wakefield Road, were shocked to learn that Brooke had been refused admission to the school and awarded a place instead at Denby C of E School in Upper Denby, three miles away.
The family only has one car, which Andrew needs to take him to his job as a warper in a Meltham textile mill. If Brooke had got a place at Gilthwaites, shift worker Andrew was going to accompany her on the 10-minute walk most mornings.
Jayne now fears she may have to give up her cleaning job if she has to travel to Upper Denby every day.
She said: “I was totally devastated when we got the letter saying Brooke had been refused a place. It would turn our lives upside down.
“I couldn’t believe it, I thought she would have had as good a chance as any, based on distance from the school.
“I was born and lived at my parents’ home near Gilthwaites school for 33 years. When I married in 2004, we had to move a bit further out. All the houses near the school cost over £180,000 and we couldn’t afford to buy one.
“Brook Meadows was built on the site of a former garage in the village and some of the houses weren’t even built when I registered Brooke for Gilthwaites, yet children from these houses have got a place.
“Brooke has been going to the toddler group at the Methodist Chapel since she was one year old and then to the local nursery for the last two years. All her friends are going to Gilthwaites.
“I have lived in the village all my life and supported the community with voluntary work all of my life. We are devastated.”
A Kirklees Council spokesman said: “Gilthwaites First School has reached its published admission number for reception places in 2012/13 and therefore the local authority is unable to admit any more children because this would breach the Government’s infant class size legislation which limits class sizes to no more than 30 children with a single qualified teacher.
“Brooke has been offered a place at Denby CE (VA) School which was the family’s second preference.
“The family can appeal to an independent appeals panel to try and secure a place at Gilthwaites First School and the appeals panel will ensure independence and that the appeal is conducted in a fair and transparent way.”