Battling village pupils finally get secondary schools places of their choice

PUBLISHED: 15:46 16 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:25 06 May 2010

ALL the children in two of the villages worst affected by secondary transfer problems have got places in a school of their choice. As late as June there were eight children in Wheathampstead and several in Kimpton without a suitable school place but Hert

ALL the children in two of the villages worst affected by secondary transfer problems have got places in a school of their choice.

As late as June there were eight children in Wheathampstead and several in Kimpton without a suitable school place but Herts County Council has confirmed that they have all now been successful.

It follows the release of the outcome of appeals for places at Sandringham in St Albans and Sir John Lawes and Roundwood Park in Harpenden.

Among those to have won appeals is 10-year-old Aidan Alexander who last month was the only child at Beech Hyde JMI in Wheathampstead not to have a place at any of his ranked secondary schools.

He was offered Onslow St Audrey in Hatfield which his parents Andrew and Paulette had turned down.

But their appeal for both Sir John Lawes and Sandringham was successful and they are now deciding which school to send Aidan too.

District councillor for Wheathampstead, Cllr Judy Shardlow, who has been fighting for a better deal for the village over secondary transfer, said Mr and Mrs Alexander were "over the moon" to have won appeals for places at both schools.

She felt that more appeals made by parents in the village this year had been successful than in previous years and commented: "From my perspective it shows that appeals panels are recognising the problems in the villages.

"It is such a formal situation being in the appeals system and it sorts out the desperate and genuine from those who just want to improve their lot."

Cllr Shardlow maintained that statistics showed that around 80 per cent of children from the two villages had been successful through the appeals process.

She has been meeting with John Harris, director of the county council's children, schools and families (csf) department which deals with secondary transfer, to discuss ways of improving the lot of children in the village who are geographically more distant from the schools of their choice.

One improvement would be to limit places on the continuing interest lists only to children with no place at a school of their choice - currently any child can go on the lists.

The other would be to restrict the sibling rule which automatically allows brothers and sisters into a school to exclude families who no longer live in the catchment area.

A spokesperson for csf confirmed this week that in the St Albans district as a whole there had been a rise in the number of successful appeals.

In 2007, 70 appeals were heard and 19 were successful, a 27 per cent success rate, while this year 126 appeals were heard and 38 were successful, a 30 per cent success rate.

All the appeals were for places at Sandringham, Beaumont, St Albans Girls, Sir John Lawes and Roundwood Park.

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