County council ‘confident’ all children can have a local school place in St Albans

Hertfordshire County Council cabinet member for libraries councillor Terry Douris at the official re

Hertfordshire County Council cabinet member for libraries councillor Terry Douris at the official reopening of Hitchin Library. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Herts county council is confident that the shortfall in school places for children in St Albans will be redressed once pupils accept offers at Katherine Warington School.

Cllr Terry Douris, cabinet member for education, libraries and localism, said: “We appreciate that this is a worrying time for parents whose children have not currently been allocated a secondary school place. The number of applications received this year has increased.

“However, we have been planning for this expected rise in pupil numbers for years. As a result, a new secondary school – Katherine Warington - is set to open in September 2019. This much needed new Free School has been funded and delivered by the Department for Education.

“Unfortunately, due to a delay in funding approval, it was not possible for us to include Katherine Warington School in the normal allocation process for 2019, and applications had to be submitted through parallel process.

“This means that a large number of children in the area have been offered two places - one at Katherine Warington and one through the co-ordinated scheme. These families will now advise us which offer they will be accepting, meaning duplicate offers are removed and a large number of places become available.

“We are confident that we will be able to offer a local school place to all children during the first run of ‘continuing interest’ in week commencing 18 March.”

Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesperson Daisy Cooper blamed the lack of places on the delay in offering firm places at Katherine Warington. She said: “The transfer to secondary school is stressful enough for students and their parents. The county council has increased the stress by failing to get Katherine Warington School approved in time.

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“It is not good enough to tell parents not to worry: the council should be actively contacting the affected families and talking to them about what is being done to resolve the problem.”

John Hale, county councillor for Colney Heath and Marshalswick, said: “The increased numbers of primary school children have shown for years that there need to be more secondary school places and yet there has been little sign of action.”