Harpenden pupils angered by primary place allocation

PARENTS across the district discovered where their children would be heading to school in September when primary school allocations were announced on Monday.

And while the county was claiming a decline in the number of children not getting any of their ranked schools, around 70 children in Harpenden learned that they had not secured a place at one of their three preferred schools.

In Harpenden, 67 children have not been offered one of their three ranked schools, with 64 offered places at The Lea Primary and Nursery, where the reception year will be two form from September, with three offered a place at Sauncey Wood.

For one parent, the news that her son hadn’t got into any of his preferred places has caused quite a lot of frustration and anxiety. She said she was gravely concerned that her son would be attending a school that only recently received a satisfactory Ofsted report.

She went on: “It’s really wrong. They should ask schools that are good schools to increase their intake and keep the schools small that need it so that they can focus on improving and giving the children already there what they need.”

The parent, who asked not to be named, said she had wanted her son to attend Manland Primary which was just 450m from her home and was the school that both she and her mother attended.

While she did not list The Lea as a preference for her son she acknowledged that it was technically the second closest school to her house at just 487m away.

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She added: “The choice for our children has been taken away from us and it’s just wrong. There are schools that have received outstanding that could take on more pupils.”

But headteacher of The Lea, Sharon Swinson, said she was encouraging parents to come and see what the school had to offer before they made a snap judgement.

She said: “I understand it’s difficult for parents because I’m not sure that they were aware of the double allocation. But I urge them to come and see us before they make a decision. Our reputation is not justified – we are very much a school on the up.”

Manland had just 30 places available for September and 18 of those were taken up by siblings of children already at the school. Crabtree had 60 places available but 40 of those were also taken up by siblings of children already at the school.

Across the county, 95 per cent of children were allocated a place at one of their three preferred primary, junior or middle schools. There were nearly 17,000 applications with 900 more applications than last year.

John Harris, Director of Children Schools and Families, said: “We’ve been working closely with schools over the last year to create over 500 additional reception places across Hertfordshire to help alleviate pressure from September 2011.

“I know that this can be a difficult time for parents and carers whose child did not get a preferred school place but I would urge families to visit the school they have been offered before deciding whether to accept or decline the place.”

Applicants who were not offered their first preference school will automatically be placed on the continuing interest list for any schools named higher on the application form than the school offered.