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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 18:42 GMT 19:42 UK
Teenager fights for Gordonstoun place
Suzanne Turley
Suzanne Turley has won a place at Gordonstoun
A foster child from Wrexham is prepared to take her council to court so that she can become eligible for a place at Gordonstoun school in Scotland.

Suzanne Turley, 16, has already been offered a place at the school - which taught members of the Royal family - but Wrexham Council has refused to help pay towards the 19,000 pounds a year fees.

The teenager is intent on pursuing a theatrical career and dreams of running her own theatre.


Leaving care looks like the only option left now, but I am prepared to do it if that's what it takes

Suzanne Turley

Suzanne has now enlisted the help of the Children's Commissioner and her Assembly Member to try to overturn the decision, and has lodged a last-ditch appeal with Wrexham Council's independent panel.

Suzanne passed the entrance exam for Gordonstoun - which includes Prince Charles among its former pupils - with flying colours and was immediately offered a place.

Suzanne's grandparents, both retired teachers, have offered their life savings of 20,000 to help fund the two-year course.

Suzanne says her only option now is to take herself out of council care and become homeless.

Gordonstoun School
Gordonstoun School has taught members of the Royal family

"Since I had the offer of the place last year I have been working really hard to get good GCSE grades," said Suzanne.

"Now at the last minute the council have told me I will have to go to the local college instead or nothing.

"Leaving care looks like the only option left now, but I am prepared to do it if that's what it takes."

Gordonstoun's drama and performing arts department is renowned as one of the best in the UK, sending annual productions to the Edinburgh Fringe and last year touring America.

"It would be a great shame if she was forced to become homeless to be legally able to attend," said Angela Harkness, the school's development director.

"But we have no problems with that - despite it being the first for any private school."

Suzanne's grandparents, Ida and John Turley, say they are baffled by Wrexham council's stance.


It would be a great shame if she was forced to become homeless to be legally able to attend...But we have no problems with that - despite it being the first for any private school

Angela Harkness from Gordonstoun School

"At the end of the day, considering we have put up two-thirds of the cash for her to go to Gordonstoun, they will be financially better off by paying the 5,000 balance for the two years.

"But they keep insisting that it is impossible for her to be educated outside Wales," a statement from the grandparents said.

Director of personal and social services for Wrexham Council, Malcolm Russell, refused to discuss Suzanne's case directly, and issued a statement instead.

"The council's overriding obligation is to safeguard and promote the welfare of the young person.

"We are confident that excellent facilities are available locally in Wrexham to accommodate a young person's needs and allow the local authority to carry out it s duty to look after the young person concerned," said the statement.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Wales's Colette Hume
"Relaxing at home after taking 11 GCSEs, Suzanne is looking forward to a glittering A-level career"
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