Two families ‘relieved’ after Stotfold school allocation rethink

Neil Miller and his daughter Annie, 4

Neil Miller and his daughter Annie, 4 - Credit: Archant

Two families have said they are “relieved” after a council announced an increase in the number of places at their local school, although they remain unsure where their children will go in September.

Laura Emmerson with her son Alfie at their home in Stotfold

Laura Emmerson with her son Alfie at their home in Stotfold - Credit: Archant

Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) announced they will add an additional reception class at Roecroft Lower School and an additional 15 places per year group at St Mary’s C of E Academy, both in Stotfold.

The comes after Laura Emmerson’s son Alfie, four, and Neil and Maryjane Miller’s daughter, Annie, also aged four, were allocated places at schools more than six miles away from their homes even though they both live within 600 metres of Roecroft.

The families both chose the school as the first choice for their children, but Annie was given a place at Langford Lower School and Alfie allocated Meppershall Lower School, both in different villages.

Ms Emmerson said: “It is still going to be an ongoing issue and there are still a load of questions unanswered, for instance the miscalculated distance.

“I feel relieved they are providing places for the Stotfold children who were rejected from their local schools but as of yet I have not had confirmation that Alfie has been offered one of these spaces so I’m still on edge while waiting.

“Unless CBC start to improve the infrastructure to cope with the ongoing building and growth of Stotfold then this problem is going to continue every year which scares me when I have to go through the process of applying in two years time for my daughter.”

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Mr and Mrs Miller, who live on the Greenacres estate in Stotfold, applied for their daughter to go to the same school, which is a less than 500 metres from their house.

They also selected Fairfield Park Lower School as their second choice, which their son Sid, eight, attends.

However, the family were “gobsmacked” to discover their daughter Annie was given a place at Langford Lower School, more than six miles away.

Mr Miller said: “We are really relieved to hear these additional places have been created But if you look at the figures the council must have known how many children were being born and so someone, somewhere has made a huge mistake.

“Something needs to be done to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.”

Cllr Mark Versallion, executive member for children’s services, said: “Since the allocations were announced we have been working hard with schools to look at ways of increasing the number of school places in time for the start of the new term in September, 2014. We are proposing to bring forward the planned expansion of St Mary’s Lower by a year to create 15 extra places and will be commissioning 30 extra places at Roecroft Lower. As a result all parents and carers with children on waiting lists for Fairfield Lower, St Marys Academy and Roecroft Lower who applied on time during the original allocations process will be subject of a reallocation process for the additional 45 places being made available, and will be advised of the outcome by letter sent by the end of this week.”

Alistair Burt, MP for North East Bedfordshire, said: “I heard about it last week and immediately got in touch with the council. I am pleased with their response and have been in touch with several of the concerned parents.”

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