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Village mum told 'no room for son'

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: October 11, 2012

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A SINGLE mum from Lympstone has spoken of her frustration that there is no room for her five-year-old son at the village primary school.

Debbie Spiller, 29, and her five sisters were born and bred in the village, as were her parents, and they all went to Lympstone Primary School.

However, Miss Spiller's son Owen, who turned five at the beginning of September, missed out on a place at the school and was instead offered a place at Marpool Primary School in Exmouth. She took her case to an appeal but it was rejected. However, she claims she had only missed out on a place because of "poor paperwork".

The county council confirmed it had offered to pay for a taxi for Owen to and from the school, but Miss Spiller said she felt uncomfortable with allowing Owen to travel in a taxi alone at his age.

She also said she was holding out for him to get a place in Lympstone where his friends are, as it would be more difficult to move him if he started in Exmouth.

Miss Spiller, a single mum on income support, said Owen has had to stay on at Lympstone pre-school, which is costing her almost £20 a week, when he should be at school.

She said the journey into Exmouth, which would mean them taking two buses, is not a feasible option.

Since the appeal in June, Miss Spiller – who has been told Owen is in priority position one – has rung the county council on a weekly basis hoping a place might have become available.

Unfortunately, when the schools returned at the beginning of September, Owen was moved down to position two after a new family moved to Lympstone, closer to the school than the Spiller family.

"I've lived here all my life. The system is so unfair. I'm furious and it is upsetting," she said.

"Owen can see his friends playing in the playground and it brings tears to my eyes when he asks why he can't be with them. He should be at school. He's missing out and this is really having an effect on his life."

Miss Spiller wrote to East Devon MP Hugo Swire, who has written to the local education authority on her behalf.

A Devon County Council spokesperson said: "There have been more applications than places at the school this year, which means we have to apply a standard set of rules.

"This mainly relates to how far the family lives from the school.

"In this case, there are families living closer than the Spillers. Owen is second on the waiting list for the school. We have offered a place at the nearest school with space and we would provide free transport.

"Lympstone Primary is the closest school to the military base and inevitably a lot of families move in and out and require places."

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