SIR, — It s now nearly six weeks since 77 parents in the St Albans district were told by Herts County Council (HCC) that they have none of their three chosen secondary school places. The county council in their usual vague and inefficient manner have told
SIR, - It's now nearly six weeks since 77 parents in the St Albans district were told by Herts County Council (HCC) that they have none of their three chosen secondary school places. The county council in their usual vague and inefficient manner have told parents that spare places under the Continuing Interest process will be released "sometime" in the week beginning April 7.
The whole process is a double whammy for parents with no ranked school place. Whammy number one is that HCC simply aren't organised enough or care enough to get the spare school places into the system and dished out quickly. Whammy number two is that parents who already have a ranked school place can hold onto it and also register for Continuing Interest. If they live closer to the school they will be given another place ahead of a family with no school. Our children simply get the leftovers from the Continuing Interest process and it is the county council that allow this to go on year after year and they appear not to have the intellectual ability or the gumption to sort it out.
Some people think that it is not worth going on about this year after year, when eventually most children get a place in local school. Well I don't agree. I will continue to go on about how unfair it is for some families to be sitting here, miserably after six weeks, with friends who are already looking forward to starting their new school, buying uniform and deciding which clubs to join. Seventy-seven parents simply have no idea when or where they will get a local school place and the longer they wait the greater the likelihood that they will have to attend an appeal hearing and literally argue their case to a panel of "experts".
HCC claim that this is a very busy time for them and that they have resource issues. That's shorthand for saying that everyone at County Hall is off for a nice long Easter holiday and that they'll get round to the Continuing Interest process when they get back.
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We all pay John Harris, the Director of Children's Schools and Families, rather a lot of money to run the county council education team, yet year after year this department spectacularly fails to sort out the inequities, mainly because they just don't care enough. Shame on you all.
CLLR JUDY SHARDLOW,
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St Albans District Council.