A MOTHER of twins has decided to educate them at home as the commute to and from their allocated school takes two and a half hours each day.

James and Joselyn Ryan, 11, can see two secondary schools from their bedroom window – but have been given places at one three miles away.

Their mother Bridgette has now decided to give up work to home school the children who must watch as their classmates go to their preferred schools.

The Ryans’ home in Varndean Holt, Brighton, backs on to the playing fields of their favoured school Dorothy Stringer.

But they have been allocated Hove Park and face a bus journey of more than an hour each way.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s school route planner calculates that Stringer is 211 metres from their front door and their second preference Varndean is 690 metres.

Hove Park is the eighth furthest from their home at 5,294 metres – more than three miles.

Mrs Ryan told The Argus: “They can see the school from the bedroom window.

“I work at Dorothy Stringer, they went to the Dorothy Stringer playschool then Balfour Primary.

“It has been extremely hard on them. They really want to go to high school, they enjoy learning and have great reports and want to be with their friends they have known since they were three years old.

“They have watched their friends get excited about going to school.”

Mrs Ryan said she had picked the same three schools, Dorothy Stringer, Varndean and Patcham, for both children but as the school’s lottery system keeps twins together she now advises other parents of siblings in the same year to apply to different schools to improve their chances.

The distraught mother said: “We have lived here since they were born.

“We always assumed they would go to Stringer. Now their journeys would be two and a half hours a day and I can’t send an 11-year-old girl on a bus across town after dark. It is crazy, it just doesn’t make any sense.

“When they lost out the first time they went back into a pool with 79 children, not just the 21 who missed out from their catchment area.

“All of the rest of their friends from primary school have got in, they are the only ones who haven’t.”

Mrs Ryan said she was not a qualified teacher and feared for their future prospects. She said: “I feel I have had no choice but to keep them at home.

“My daughter is 11, she doesn’t go on the bus on her own. While I’m home schooling them they can see their friends at school. It is going to be very hard trying to keep their friendship groups.”

A spokesman for the city council said: “We are sorry that we weren’t able to offer Mrs Ryan any of the school place preferences she requested. It is not possible for us to guarantee a place at people’s catchment area school or schools.

“While there are enough secondary school places across the city as a whole, unfortunately there are now more pupils than places available in some catchment areas.

“We are about to start consultation on proposals aimed at addressing this issue in future, starting in September 2019.

“When we cannot offer a place at a preferred school we offer a place at the next nearest school with places available instead.

“Parents have a duty to ensure their children receive an appropriate education and we believe all the city’s schools provide a strong educational offer.

“We have a legal duty to allocate school places according to the council’s admission priorities and our reallocation process works in exactly the same way as when places are first allocated.

“Once priorities one to three (looked after children, exceptional medical or other need, sibling link) have been applied, people who are inside a catchment area get priority over people who aren’t.”


BRIGHTON and Hove schools admissions are due to undergo a shake up to try to resolve the shortage of places.

Under the current system pupils are prioritised first if they have special educational needs, then children in local authority care, followed by those with a compelling medical need.

Siblings will be sent to the same schools as the fifth priority, followed by all other children in the catchment area.

Where two or more children have the same priority they are then plucked at random by a lottery system regardless of where they live.

Dorothy Stringer and Varndean are the most oversubscribed schools in the city and a consultation on new catchment areas is hoped to even out the issues.

Under the proposals that could come into effect from September 2018, changes to the catchment area boundaries would mean parts of east Brighton such as Hanover, would no longer be in the Dorothy Stringer/ Varndean patch.

The changes are anticipated to only last for two years. The University of Brighton Academies Trust is expected to open the Brighton and Hove Academy at the Brighton General Hospital site in September 2019, although the school will operate without a catchment area in its first year.

By law admissions arrangements have to be agreed 18 months in advance, meaning decisions on 2019 admissions need to be made by early 2018.