A SINGLE mother from Newport has made an impassioned plea for her children to be allowed to study at the same school.

Raweya Al-Dabbagh said her youngest son Sarmad, 11, was currently without a school place and was unable to join his brother at the city’s St Joseph’s RC High School.

For family reasons, she said, Sarmad was desperate to be in the same school his older brother, Ahmed.

“They are very close, and Sarmad looks up to him,” Dr Al-Dabbagh said. “He’s very stressed about going to school without his brother. He thinks he feels safe with his brother.”

Dr Al-Dabbagh said she had submitted the application to St Joseph’s without any problems, but alleged a paperwork error had omitted the fact Ahmed was already at the school, and that Sarmad was practising a religion.

St Joseph’s disputes this allegation, saying that the school “fully complied” with Welsh Government codes at every stage of the admissions process.

Dr Al-Dabbagh lives in Newport but now works in Cardiff. She said she had been reluctant to move her sons to the capital because she believed they would be attending St Joseph’s together.

After Sarmad’s application was processed, Dr Al-Dabbagh said her son was initially given a lower priority level on the waiting list – but after providing proof he was attending an Arabic school in Cardiff on weekend, he was raised to a higher level.

But two weeks into the new school year, Sarmad is still on the waiting list, and there is no guarantee a place will be made available.

In a letter to St Joseph’s, Dr Al-Dabbagh said she worked hard “to provide [her sons] with the best life, education, financial and emotional support” and “wished [she] could have some support” from the school.

She has also contacted Newport East AM John Griffiths, who in a letter to the school said Dr Al-Dabbagh was “extremely resistant to having to split [her sons], which could have adverse effects on the family”.

The Argus put Dr Al-Dabbagh’s concerns, and allegations of a paperwork error, to St Joseph’s headteacher, Jackie Jarrett.

In reply, she said: “I can confirm that at every stage of the admissions process, St Joseph’s RC High School has followed the correct procedure.

“We have fully complied with the Welsh Government school admissions code (No. 005/2015) and the Welsh Government school admissions appeals code (No. 007/2013).”