Sort out school transfer problems county warned

PUBLISHED: 11:20 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

SECONDARY school transfer problems must not be allowed to go on into another year according to concerned St Albans district councillors. They have agreed to complain to Herts County Council and ask for specific issues to be reviewed in the wake of this ye

SECONDARY school transfer problems must not be allowed to go on into another year according to concerned St Albans district councillors.

They have agreed to complain to Herts County Council and ask for specific issues to be reviewed in the wake of this year's secondary transfer which has left 77 pupils in the district without a place at one of their ranked schools.

Nineteen of those are in Wheathampstead with an additional 30 unsuccessful in St Albans and 14 in Harpenden.

Wheathampstead Lib-Dem district councillor Chris Oxley said that children in the village had been offered places at Francis Bacon in St Albans or Onslow St Audrey in Hatfield, both of which required long and difficult journeys.

Warning that the situation could only get worse and was already being seen in primary schools where there was a shortage of places, he pointed out that parents of children in the villages were particularly disadvantaged. "They pay the same taxes and shouldn't get second-class treatment," he said.

Cllr Oxley said he had spent the past 12 years trying to persuade the county council to make admission rules fair and equitable.

Labour group leader, Cllr Roma Mills, urged last week's full meeting of the district council to raise specific issues with the county.

She wants them to review the current capacity in Year Seven places in the district and the number of incoming pupils, the planned admission numbers at each school and the priority areas that the community schools in St Albans and Harpenden are required to serve.

Cllr Mills maintained that there were a number of voluntary-aided schools in the district which took children from outside the area and she called on the county to look at that, "in an intelligent way".

And she suggested that while a number of schools were landlocked, there might be some with the capacity to expand which needed to be looked at.

But Tory councillors accused them of politicking with a district council election looming. Former group leader and now Independent, Cllr John Newman, said most initially-unsuccessful children got places when others, offered places at public schools, were taken out of the equation.

And Cllr Liz Stevenson accused the ruling LibDem group of not responding when the county council consulted on its admissions policy earlier this year. She added: "The Government only allows the county council to choose broadly by geography and siblings. Different rules would achieve the same results but move the anxiety elsewhere.

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