Notre Dame Leeds: Students devastated after sixth form places 'dumped by text' before enrollment
Students have been left devastated after losing their places at a Leeds sixth form college on the night before they were due to enroll.
Notre Dame Sixth Form College, a long over-subscribed Catholic college in Saint Mark's Avenue, told some students via text message that their places had been dropped on Wednesday evening.
The college said it had stopped enrollment, which was due to run from Monday until Thursday, after it reached the "unprecedented position" of all places being filled within three days.
Now Notre Dame has come under fire from parents who said they had believed their children's places were confirmed when they achieved the conditional grades required.
Samina Aslam said her son, who was booked to enroll on Thursday morning, was left "devastated" after finding out his enrollment had been cancelled via a text message received at 4.52pm on Wednesday.
She joined dozens of upset students and their parents as they gathered outside the college on Thursday - the day they should have been enrolling.
Speaking to the YEP, she said: "There were lots of other parents outside, ready to enroll and get their children set - children who had worked really hard, got the grades and adhered to the conditional offer.
“Now you’ve got frantic parents, who are ringing around and having to take whatever is left. We rejected all our other places so that others could take those positions - we’ve done everything we were supposed to do.”
Samina lives in Bradford but said she had spoken to a number of students from Leeds who had lost their places under the same circumstances.
In a statement, Notre Dame said the order of enrollment priority is Catholic partner schools, followed by other Catholic schools and Catholic students, and finally other schools in order of distance from the college.
But another Bradford parent said students were only made aware of the final geographic criteria in an enrollment pack sent to them after they had turned down places elsewhere.
As of 5pm on Thursday, the admissions policy available on the Notre Dame website made no mention of the "in order of nearest to college" criteria.
The dad, who wishes to remain anonymous, said his daughter was in tears after finding out she had been "dumped by text".
He added: "The college sent an undated letter, after offers had been made, that suggested that places were tight - as well as introducing the geography element.
“It was sent after offers were made and confirmed. Only then did they say, our criteria now includes geography, and you have a registration time and date.
“Telling us in the enrollment packs - that’s too late.”
Both parents told the YEP they were unhappy with the way their complaints had been handled.
They said Notre Dame's headteacher had briefly addressed a crowd of parents and students on Thursday, but they had been unable to get through on the admissions phone number or email address to receive support.
In a statement, Notre Dame said it "shared the disappointment and frustration" of those who had not secured places at the college but said it was in the "unprecedented position of being full after three days of enrollment."
It said this was due to a "unique set of circumstances" including significant growth in the number of 16-18-year-olds in Leeds combined with better GCSE results.
The statement added: "We know we have acted as ethically and morally as we could have under such difficult circumstances.
"We understand the disappointment this has created, and we are frustrated that we are unable to offer any more places.
"All students have been added to our waiting list, but unfortunately, the College is experiencing at local level a very real national problem."
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