FAMILIES in Burnham have expressed their anger after their children failed to secure places at their local primary schools.

Many children in the area were expecting to start at Burnham Primary or St Mary’s this September.

However, parents have now been told their child will be going to schools such as Southminster Primary, which can be up to an hour-long walk from the town.

This is a major concern as transport links are not ideal and the road leading to Southminster has no pavement.

Mum-of-two Dawn Wells, 31, lives in Burnham with partner Michael Kempster, 33.

The couple hoped four-year-old daughter Savannah would be able to go to St Mary’s or Burnham Primary, but they were offered Southminster Primary.

Four-year old Savannah Kempster with parents Michael Kempster and Dawn Wells

Four-year old Savannah Kempster with parents Michael Kempster and Dawn Wells

“It just felt horrible,” said Dawn.

“I just never thought in a million years it would happen. My heart just sank.

“I did not put down any other choices for many reasons, one of which was transport.

“I never thought I would not get any of my choices.

“We only have one car and Michael needs the car, which means I cannot have the car, especially in the mornings.

“They say they will arrange transport, but my daughter is four years old. There’s no way I’m sending her on her own in a bus or taxi.

An illustration of how far Burnham is from Southminster by foot. Photo - Google Maps

An illustration of how far Burnham is from Southminster by foot. Photo - Google Maps

“I have no issues with the new houses being built but there are going to be more children naturally.

“Something needs to be done. The schools need to be made bigger or an extra school needs to be built to accommodate all these children.

“It’s making the people who have lived here for many years resent the people who have moved here from out of the area.”

The family have now launched an appeal.

St Mary’s Primary has a capacity of 210 pupils - seven classes of 30.

Headteacher Geraldine Denham-Hale and the school’s governing body have seen an increase in applications.

St Marys school headteacher Geraldine Denham-Hale

St Mary's school headteacher Geraldine Denham-Hale

Mrs Denham-Hale said: “It’s something we’ve been anticipating and communicating with the local authority for several years now.

“It’s heart-breaking because, when we have an appeal situation, we have to follow the rules.

“We wish we were able to take every family in. It is horrible as a head having children who want to come to your school, and you have to say no.”

Essex County Council says out of 15,779 countywide applications which were received on time, 14,161 pupils who are due to start in reception in September have been offered their parent or carer’s first preference of primary school.

About ten per cent of pupils will be going to their second, third, or fourth choice, or will be placed at the nearest school with space.

The county council says its admissions and place planning procedures comply with legal requirements.

A spokesman said: “While there are no primary school expansion projects currently planned for the Dengie area, Essex County Council will commission school expansions and new schools as required to ensure there are sufficient school places available in an area.

“Although we cannot comment on the specifics of individual cases, parents do have the statutory right of appeal for any school at which they have been refused a place.”

Are you a parent in a similar situation? Please get in touch.