Boy, 11, can’t get a place at the school he can see from his front door

Colin and Taylor Lewis Taylor Lewis and father Colin [right]at the Haberdashers’ lower school

An 11-year-old has been rejected by a school about 60 feet from his front door — because he lives too far away.

Colin Lewis applied for a place at the popular Haberdashers’ Aske’s Hatcham College for his son Taylor, to start in September. But he was told all places had gone to other children who lived closer, or had attended a primary school with links to the college.

Taylor’s case illustrates the struggle many parents in London face trying to find a place for their children. Across the city, a third of families — 27,300 children — were rejected by their first choice secondaries this year.

Increased competition for places has been blamed on more parents applying to free state schools instead of going private, as a result of the recession. Mr Lewis, a 42-year-old Royal Mail manager, said the admissions system was “terrible”. He added: “Local schools are for local people. Fair enough to take some people from other areas, but people who live in the local community should really have access.”

In common with many popular secondaries, Hatcham College, in New Cross, gives priority to children who live nearest to the school’s main office. Mr Lewis said Taylor missed out as the family lives across the road from the lower school site — but a five-minute walk from the upper site in Pepys Road where the office is. He said a child living 60 feet closer than Taylor to the main site had been offered a place. Children who attended nearby Hatcham Temple Grove primary are also given priority.

Taylor is first on the waiting list for the school, which receives 12 applications for each place. His mother, dental nurse Kerry Reeve, 41, said: “I was just gobsmacked our son didn’t get into a school that is literally opposite our house. It’s just ridiculous that some children further away from the school got in.”

Dr Elizabeth Sidwell, chief executive of the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation, said: “Hatcham College occupies four sites, hence our distance must be measured from the site that is our registered address.”

Sharon Oliver, Haberdashers’ registrar, added: “All applications are considered under the published admissions policy, which parents have had the opportunity to consult on.”

Some 80,000 children are waiting to find out if they have been allocated their preferred primaries for September.

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