Doncaster student waited three months for school place

Natashka Cooke, 15 (r), has been unable to get a place a a secondary school since moving to Intake from Chesterfield in August, which has upset her mum Samantha. Picture: Andrew Roe
Natashka Cooke, 15 (r), has been unable to get a place a a secondary school since moving to Intake from Chesterfield in August, which has upset her mum Samantha. Picture: Andrew Roe

A teenage girl fears her future is in jeopardy after she was left without a school place for more than three months.

Natashka Cooke, aged 15, moved to Doncaster from Chesterfield last August and was admitted to Danum Academy only this week.

She says she has now been told she is so far behind in her GCSEs that she is unlikely to make the grade.

Natashka’s mum Samantha, aged 39, of Shaftesbury Avenue, Intake, is furious that her daughter has been left not knowing what the future holds.

“My daughter came to live with me after living with her dad in Chesterfield,” she said. “I, of course, wanted to register her at a school in this area because I was concerned about her education.

“I applied in September and the council said they were waiting for information from her old school.

“I had to write to the board of governors at her old school to find out why this was the case and I was told the details had been forwarded.

“We have been waiting since then. I have been in touch with the school and the council. I even contacted social services and phoned the welfare officer to ask about home tutoring.

“She should be doing her GCSEs, it’s beyond a joke. She is distressed because she thinks she has no chance with her exams.”

After The Star contacted the authorities on Tuesday, Natashka was told a place was available at Danum Academy on Wednesday.

Eleanor Brazil, director of the Children and Young People’s Service, said: “When a pupil moves into a different area it can take a while to secure a place at a new school.

“Unfortunately in this case it has taken longer than usual but I am pleased to say Natashka has now been offered a place at Danum Academy.”

However, mum and daughter’s joy was shortlived.

Samantha said: “I received a phone call from Danum School saying she could be admitted. I was amazed it had happened so quickly after I have been trying all sorts of methods.

“I was so relieved she had finally got a place because I had been banging my head against a brick wall. Natashka was really happy as well, it made my day.

“But she got to school and was told there was no room for her in the lessons she needed.

“They also said all her coursework goes towards her final GCSE results and they still haven’t got her details - but I know her previous school sent them in October.

“It’s horrendous. She can’t physically catch up.

“She’s been given no chance and is being left to study things she’s never had to study before. No-one seems to care about her future.”

Danum Academy headteacher Rebecca Staples said: “We didn’t receive any contact from the local authority about Natashka until November.

“National policies mean when we get a request we can’t admit there and then, we have to find out the circumstances.

“We then contacted her previous school to get some details but we were struggling with that. We got knocked back by them twice which put a delay on matters.

“Once we got the information the pupil was phoned by the head of year and admitted. We’ve worked at a pace that we could with the situation we were in.”

She added: “We now need to do the best we can with the time we have left between now and July to get Natashka as many qualifications, with the best grades, that we can.

“It may be she might need an intermediate year in the sixth form to catch up but we will now put real concentration on the core subjects of maths, English and science.”

Doncaster Council confirmed Natashka was one of six students who were waiting for places at schools in the borough.