St Albans parents urged to reject schools forced on children

PUBLISHED: 16:48 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 14:01 06 May 2010

Cllr Chris Brazier

Cllr Chris Brazier

PARENTS of children who have received none of their three preferred secondary school places are being urged to reject what they have been given. It comes in the wake of 118 pupils in the St Albans district failing to get a ranked school – and the majority

PARENTS of children who have received none of their three preferred secondary school places are being urged to reject what they have been given.

It comes in the wake of 118 pupils in the St Albans district failing to get a ranked school - and the majority being given a place at Francis Bacon which is currently in special measures.

That includes children from as far away as Harpenden, Wheathampstead and Kimpton while in Colney Heath seven youngsters have been given a place at Onslow St Audrey in Hatfield.

Cllr Judy Shardlow, school places campaigner in Wheathampstead, is concerned that Herts County Council is putting unreasonable pressure on parents to accept school places which are miles away.

She said that at least 35 children in Wheathampstead, Harpenden and Kimpton had been given Francis Bacon which would take them more than two hours a day to access by public transport.

Cllr Shardlow added: "I have asked for parents in Wheathampstead and Kimpton to be offered one-to-one advice sessions from an appeals advisor from the county council and I am pleased that the county council has agreed to do this. But I am repeatedly hearing from parents that they are being told to accept the non-ranked school place offered in the first instance.

"The decision about whether to accept or reject a school place should be made independently by each parent, without pressure from the county council, who are only interested in their figures and not the welfare of an individual family."

She has organised a meeting in Wheathampstead for parents with no ranked school which will take place at 7pm on Sunday at Mead Hall in East Lane. She added: "This will give them a chance to receive balanced information from parents who have faced this awful situation in previous years."

Cllr Chris Brazier organised a similar meeting in Colney Heath - where seven children were given place at Onslow St Audrey and four received Francis Bacon - last week.

He said this week: "The ones I am most concerned about are those who have got Onslow because it is those seven who would have to trudge over to Hatfield."

He pointed out that last year's appeals panel at County Hall had accepted that the route to Onslow, which involves an underpass and a footpath going from the A1M, was not a safe route to school which was part of the Government's criteria for the allocation of school places.

Cllr Brazier said that he and Cllr Shardlow intended to raise the issue of the plight of children in villages at secondary transfer time at next week's full meeting of St Albans District Council.

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