Harpenden school places withdrawn in false addresses row
PUBLISHED: 07:33 28 May 2009 | UPDATED: 14:07 06 May 2010
TWO offers of places at an oversubscribed Harpenden secondary school have been withdrawn because they were submitted using false addresses. Herts county council has confirmed that it took away the places at Sir John Lawes because the addresses given were
TWO offers of places at an oversubscribed Harpenden secondary school have been withdrawn because they were submitted using false addresses.
Herts county council has confirmed that it took away the places at Sir John Lawes because the addresses given were not the home addresses of the pupils who had been given places.
It is the latest in its campaign to stamp out school place fraud which saw the county council win a High Court ruling in 2006 after a schoolboy at an over-subscribed St Albans school had his place withdrawn after his parents failed to provide satisfactory proof of a permanent address.
A spokesperson for the county council commented this week: "Herts county council treats the deliberate abuse of the admissions system very seriously. In circumstances such as these, a school place gained by a parent giving an incorrect address and the child will instead be allocated a place at the nearest school to their home with available places."
News of the withdrawal of the two places came at the same time as it emerged that mistakes made by the county council in calculating distance to schools had cost parents secondary school places.
It follows the introduction of a new mapping system which resulted in some parents discovering that their nearest route to school had been ignored and those who lived further away had been offered places ahead of them.
As a result at least four parents from Sandridge have belatedly been offered a place at Sandringham and it is believed a further three in Southdown have now been given places at Sir John Lawes.
Wheathampstead secondary school campaigner, Cllr Judy Shardlow, said that as a result of the mistake, both schools were now over their planned admission number of 180.
That had a knock-on effect on the continuing interest list as well as placing additional pressure on both schools.
She went on: "In the current round of continuing interest no places have come up at either Sandringham or Sir John Lawes while four places have come up at Roundwood. This is because the county council is trying to catch up from the mistakes it made in allocating places originally, places that went to the wrong families."
There are currently still nine children in Wheathampstead without a ranked school - most have been offered places at Francis Bacon on the other side of the district - and appeals are due to start next week.
Cllr Shardlow, who has submitted a complaint to the Office of the Schools Adjudicator about the annual problem of places for village children, added: "If the schools are already over their planned admission numbers, how will they manage after appeal places have been allocated."
The County Hall spokesperson conceded that there had been problems with the satellite measuring system with regard to Jersey Lane which had been mistakenly left out this year.
She added: "We are sorry about this error and the four children that were disadvantaged by this mistake are being offered places at the school they should have been entitled to attend, Sandringham School.