Confusion over secondary school place for 11-year-old pupil

PUBLISHED: 10:27 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:31 06 May 2010

WITH only three weeks to go to the start of the new school year, an 11-year-old boy still does not know which secondary school he will be attending. Jack Newby Ricci, who lives in Blackmore End, Wheathampstead, was ready to start his secondary school li

WITH only three weeks to go to the start of the new school year, an 11-year-old boy still does not know which secondary school he will be attending.

Jack Newby Ricci, who lives in Blackmore End, Wheathampstead, was ready to start his secondary school life at Roundwood Park in Harpenden next month.

He had been to the induction day and mum Sam had bought his uniform and had a meeting with the school's special-needs co-ordinator.

But now, due to what appears to be an administrative error, he could well be starting his secondary school life at Sir John Lawes, also in Harpenden.

Originally Jack was offered a place at Onslow St Audrey in Hatfield which his mother turned down. She went onto the continuing interest lists for both Roundwood Park and Sir John Lawes and appealed against the decision.

In May Jack got a place at Roundwood Park but Sam decided to keep him on the Sir John Lawes continuing interest list because that had been his first choice when he originally applied for a secondary school place.

In July she received an e-mail from Herts County Council to say Jack had got a place at Sir John Lawes and she would receive a letter of confirmation so she could either accept or reject the place.

But the letter never arrived and it was not until Sam went online just to check what was happening that she found Jack had been allocated Sir John Lawes.

She maintained she contacted the county council on a number of occasions to try to clarify the situation but without success.

Sam said this week: "I only found out by going to online admission as I had never accepted a place at Sir John Lawes. I would have sent him to Roundwood Park if I hadn't looked at it."

She explained that as she had put Sir John Lawes as first choice for her son, she had decided to keep him on the continuing interest list so they could decide which school he would prefer if he did get a place.

She added: "At the moment Jack is going to Sir John Lawes but we are back on the continuing interest list for Roundwood Park. They are both brilliant schools but the way it has been handled is the most concerning thing."

A spokesperson for the county council apologised for the confusion which had arisen and confirmed that the family had been offered and accepted a place at Roundwood Park.

"However on the acceptance letter, they clearly circled the box saying they wished to be kept on the continuing interest list at Sir John Lawes which had been their first preference."

She added: "When a place became free at Sir John Lawes it was offered to them in the normal way, online, by letter and via the website. When they did not decline this place we had to assume they were accepting the offer and the place at Roundwood Park was withdrawn.

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