Secondary-school admissions shake-up welcomed
PUBLISHED: 10:59 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 13:51 06 May 2010
A SHAKE-up in the schools admission procedure could make life a bit easier for parents of children living in some of the villages around St Albans. From this year parents who have been allocated a secondary school place and then get one at another schoo
A SHAKE-up in the schools admission procedure could make life a bit easier for parents of children living in some of the villages around St Albans.
From this year parents who have been allocated a secondary school place and then get one at another school through the continuing interest list will forfeit their original allocation.
In the past they have been able to hold on to more than one place for some time while they make a decision - which has infuriated parents in villages like Wheathampstead and Kimpton where their children often don't get places in any of their preferred schools initially.
Herts County Council has also gone out to consultation on a second change to the continuing interest list system which would mean that if a family listing three preferred schools are allocated their second preference, they will only be allowed to go on the continuing interest list for their first choice school instead of any number as they can now.
That would not be introduced until 2010 /11 if the county council decides to press ahead with it and consultation on the issue will run until March 1.
Sarah Vize, senior manager for school admissions and transport, said the change to continuing interest this year would mean an end to the, "unnecessary time delay which currently happens while the parent or carer decides whether to accept the continuing interest school offer or retain the original school place offered".
She added: "We also wanted to speed up the process and prevent people from holding on to two school places while they make a decision."
St Albans councillor Judy Shardlow, who represents Wheathampstead and has been at the forefront of the campaign to improve secondary transfer in the village, said she still expected 30 per cent of children in the village to be without a ranked school place on March 1 when allocations were sent out.
But she was pleased that some steps were being taken to tackle what she sees as the iniquities of the continuing interest system.
"This year's change will speed up the process because there won't be any of this holding on to two places. Parents could have a continuing interest place for 10 days but in reality they often hold on to them for up to a month. It is going to force people to make a decision much quicker.
"It is a difficult decision to make but this will crystallise it for them. If they have got one choice, they should be happy because in Wheathampstead if you get one of your preferred schools, you are a winner."
She added: "This continuing interest change does represent some progress.