Wisbech parents claim there is a primary school crisis

A WISBECH couple claim a crisis in the town’s primary schools has forced their four-year-old son to be educated apart from his bother and sister.

Rowan Shawcross has just started at Peckover School but sister Ellie and brother Ethan are pupils at Elm Road School.

Emma and Terry Shawcross, of Burdett Road, say they have been told there are just a few places left at Peckover School and waiting lists at every other primary school in Wisbech.

Cambridgeshire County Council says the couple were unsuccessful in getting their son into Elm Road because they were late getting in their application. It says places are tight but there is certainly not a crisis.

A county council spokesman said: “We have every sympathy with the family, we try to make it as easy as possible for people to apply.

“But because they were half a year after the deadline and three months after letters went out to parents it would not have been fair to tell another child they could not be allocated a place.”

The spokesman said every child who applied for a school place had been allocated one although it may not have been a first choice. He added the council was always forward planning and was looking at expanding capacity.

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But Mrs Shawcross said: “Families are suffering, the children are suffering and parents are getting very stressed just getting their kids from A to B. It is just crazy and the situation has been left until it has become a crisis and now something will have to be done about it.”

The couple heard on Wednesday that their appeal to Cambridgeshire County Council against the decision not to give Rowan a place at Elm Road School has been unsuccessful.

They want to hear from other parents who have found themselves in the same position with a view to holding a public meeting.

The couple, who are both studying for degrees, admit they were late registering Rowan for school because Mrs Shawcross was going through pregnancy complications with youngest daughter Amelia, but believed there would not be a problem.

Mrs Shawcross said: “It isn’t the fault of the schools but how can anyone be at two places at one time? We are going to be late picking the two up from Elm Road every day.”

Mr Shawcross added: “My university place is in jeopardy because they will only accommodate me being late for so long. We took the decision to do our degrees for the long term benefit of our family and we didn’t expect this to happen.”

Mrs Shawcross is due to meet with MP Steve Barclay and has already discussed her concerns with Councillor Simon King who will be meeting with county council officers to get answers.

Cllr King said: “Historically there has been a lot of pressure on primary school places in Wisbech. At the moment we are going through a demographic peak in Wisbech of children in that age group.

“Mrs Shawcross is absolutely right to ask these questions and I am very happy to support her in getting the answers she is entitled to.”

EMAIL: emma_shawcross@hotmail.co.uk