Girl, 11, refused school place next to home and offered spot 40 minutes away

An 11-year-old girl was refused a place at her local secondary will now have to take a 40-minute bus journey everyday instead.

Rylie O'Neill, from Greater Manchester, lives just a two-minute walk from Wardle Academy in Rochdale and her mum Lindsey Pawson had 'been certain' she would be offered a place there.

Lindsey was so confident that she would be admitted that it was the only school they put on her application, reports the Manchester Evening News .

But Lindsey was left stunned to read in a letter that Rylie, 11, was instead offered a place at Oulder Hill Community School.

Rylie's mum, who works in the evenings as a swim teacher, fears for her young daughter's safety as she will now be required to walk through Rochdale on her own everyday.

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She has appealed the decision and says there is 'no chance' she will be sending her daughter to the school.

Lindsey said: "I don’t understand how they expect an 11-year-old girl to travel through Rochdale on her own when they aren’t allowed to be left on their own at that age anyway.

"I don’t leave my children on their own ever, so I certainly won’t be letting my daughter be on her own travelling to the other side of Rochdale.

"The world isn’t safe as it is, there is all sorts of weird people out there, I’m not standing for this. Even if we don't win the appeal there's no chance I'll be taking her to that school."

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It comes after Wardle amended its admissions policy for September 2020, which means children from primary schools within the Wardle Academy Trust get priority over distance.

These are currently Kentmere Academy, St Andrews’ C.E. Primary School and Nursery in Dearnley and St James’ C of E Primary School, Wardle.

As Rylie attends Littleborough Community Primary School, where her younger brother Max, 10, also goes, it means she's missed out.

"We went to the open day at Wardle and she's been so excited about going there," said Lindsey.

"We'd been certain of her getting in so we only put that one on the form.

"I got the email and woke her up to tell her, she's so upset and she and all her friends were crying in the playground. She's the only one out of all of them who didn't get in and she lives closer than all her friends."

Rochdale Council has no say over Wardle Academy's  admissions policy, which now lists 'relative proximity and ease of access' to the school as seventh in its 'criteria for the allocation of places'.

A spokesman for the authority said that borough-wide 94.9% of children got their first or second choice school.

Wardle Academy Trust undertook a full consultation on its new admissions policy and received no objections.

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