Boy, 11, forced to take taxis for 18 miles every day after missing out on school place

A BOY, aged 11, is being forced to take taxis for 18 miles to go to school every day after missing out on a spot at his local secondary. 

Alfie Vollans has been separated from all his primary school friends after he was not allocated a place at Bassaleg School in Newport, south Wales

Simon Vollans/MEDIA WALES

Alfie Vollans will have to travel alone in a taxi to school after missing out on a spot at the local secondary[/caption]

Simon Vollans/MEDIA WALES

Alfie’s parents are worried about the impact on Alfie’s mental health after being separated from his friends[/caption]

Instead, the 11-year-old will have to catch a taxi every morning at a cost of £8,500 a year to the local council, his dad has worked out. 

Alfie missed out on a spot at the local secondary school because he lived furthest away from the school out of the nearly 300 children who applied in his area. 

The last available spot at Alfie’s preferred school was given to a child living 5.667 miles from the school, while Alfie’s home is 5.669 miles away.

In fact, Alfie is so close to one of the Year 6 pupils who was admitted, he can talk to them through the adjoining bedroom wall in their semi-detached house.

Alfie’s parents are now concerned for their son’s mental health, fearing he’ll be exhausted by the travel and isolated from his friends.

Dad Simon Vollans told The Mirror: “We found that he was the only child who hadn’t got a place, we think ever, who live in the catchment area. 

“I have lived here for 35 years and no one can think of anyone else that has been excluded.

“We’re in a semi-detached and the girl next door who is the same age as Alfie, who he can speak to through the bedroom wall, is in and he isn’t.

“Being the only child out of nearly 300 to be separated from his peers and sent on his own to a distant school raises obvious concerns because of the solitary nature of Alfie’s exclusion.”

Alfie’s parents appealed the decision to refuse Alfie a place – made by Newport City Council’s Local Education Authority – in May.

But the council refused to overturn their decision. 

Alfie will now have to take a taxi to and from school each day. 

But his parents are worried not only about the taxis’ cost to the council, but also its impact on the environment.

Taxis to school will cost council £8,500 a year

Dad Simon said: “We’ve done the figures on a taxi app to see what it would be, and we reckon that’s about £8,500 a year if you just count the school days. So it seems a very odd decision.

“They’ve imposed a 50mph limit on the M4 to stop pollution and then [propose to] send one child in a taxi twice a day right across the city. It’s just bizarre.”

For the next five years, the child will be driven miles past the bus stop where his friends are catching the bus to the local school, to the secondary school he has been allocated by the council. 

His Dad added: “[Alfie] has lived in the village all his life and all his friends are going to Bassaleg.

“It is a fairly brutal thing to cull just one child out of nearly 300. It’s not going to be good for him.”

It is a fairly brutal thing to cull just one child out of nearly 300. It’s not going to be good for him.”

Simon Vollans

A Newport City Council spokesperson said spots at the school were allocated in line with its admissions policy, which comes from Welsh Government guidance. 

They said: “The admissions policy sets out that living in a school catchment area does not guarantee a child a place in that school. 

“School admission numbers are set based on Welsh Government guidance and therefore reflect the number of pupils each school can safely accommodate.

“The number of applications received for September 2021 Year 7 entry exceeded the number of available places for this school.

“In total, 93 on-time applications were declined. Twenty-five of these exercised their right to appeal the initial decision to an independent appeals body.”

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