‘We’ve lived here all our lives, but my son can’t get a place in the village school’

David Soakell and son Ben, of White Hill Road, Easington Lane,  who has been refused a place at the local primary school.
David Soakell and son Ben, of White Hill Road, Easington Lane, who has been refused a place at the local primary school.
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AN angry dad says his son is missing out on a place at the village school.

Despite living just a few minutes’ walk from Easington Lane Primary School, Ben Soakell has been refused a place in the reception class.

Dad David, 37, says the four-year-old has been offered a place at New Penshaw Primary School, which is six miles away.

The coal merchant said: “Our family has lived in the village all our lives, but places at the school are going to people who have just moved on to the new housing estate from other areas. It is not fair.

“I know a few people in the same position – a friend in the next street can’t get his child into the school either.

“The transport costs are going to be huge just to take Ben to school and pick him up.”

He said the Clarence Court estate, being built in Murton Lane, will eventually have up to 200 houses.

David, who lives in White Hill Road, said: “If the kids can’t get into the school now, where are all these children going to go when it is finished?”

The new £3million Easington Lane Primary School in High Street was opened in November 2006, but David claims it is too small for the number of children.

Now, he and partner Rachael Levington, 32, are worried that going to a different school will cause problems for their youngest son making friends.

Ben’s brothers, Carl, 14, and 12-year-old Josh both attended Easington Lane school.

But because they are now at Hetton School, there is no sibling link at the primary for Ben.

Sunderland City Council’s head of commissioning and change management Beverley Scanlon said: “Unfortunately, it was not possible to offer a place for Ben at Easington Lane Primary Schoolfor reception in September.

“Ben’s parents exercised their right to appeal against the decision not to offer a place but the independent appeals panel did not uphold the appeal.

“Mr Soakell has been advised of vacancies in other schools, including a primary school in the Hetton area.

“It is always difficult when parents cannot be offered a place at their preferred school, but the admissions team will continue to advise and support Ben’s parents to secure a school place for him.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho