Another year brings further misery over St Albans school places

Rachel Wilkinson, her son Daniel and Councillor Chris Brazier

Rachel Wilkinson, her son Daniel and Councillor Chris Brazier - Credit: Archant

DOZENS of children living in the district have not been allocated a place at any of the secondary schools they applied to despite being given an extra fourth choice for the first time this year.

Figures released by Herts county council show that 96 per cent of pupils from St Albans who are set to move to secondary school in September have received offers to study at one of their four preferences.

But the parents of 52 students were told on Friday that their child had been turned down for places at all of their favoured secondary schools.

One disappointed parent, whose son has been given a place at a school outside the district that did not feature on their list, said she was now dreading having to go through the stressful appeal process.

Rachel Wilkinson, of Bullen’s Green Lane, Colney Heath, said: “I have been through it [appealing] before with my daughter getting into St Albans Girls School and I have felt the pain the first time and now I have got to go through it again.

“I had an inkling it might go the way it went with my daughter but because we had to choose four schools this year I thought it would have alleviated the problem. I have been penalised for where I live.”

St Albans district councillor for Colney Heath Chris Brazier has criticised the secondary school allocation process for disadvantaging students living in areas such as Colney Heath, Wheathampstead and Redbourn.

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He said: “The county council’s intention was to give parents a fourth choice to solve the problem of parents not getting their first three choices but that has failed miserably.

“It is happening more and more in the villages because as you build up the housing outside the city centre we are becoming further away from our nearest school. It is going to keep affecting the rural areas until something is done and people will not get their choices whether we make it four, five or six choices.”

Frances Button, county cabinet member for education and skills, has urged parents to visit the school they have been given and speak to the headteacher before dismissing the offer.

She said: “I do appreciate that some parents may be disappointed with the school they have initially been allocated, but this is the start of the process.

“They will automatically be included in the continuing interest process when places which are not needed, for example because a family has recently moved away, are reallocated.”

Applicants who have not been offered their first preference school will automatically be placed on a continuing interest list for any Herts school named higher on their application form.

School places must be accepted by March 15 and the deadline to submit an appeal is 4pm on March 28.