Fears over school places allocation around Hitchin and Letchworth


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A former teacher has raised concerns about how demand for secondary school places are being met across the area and believes splitting up children who have attended village schools together will result in “truancy and youth crime”.

Peter Thomson, of Hexton Road in Lilley, told the Comet he believes Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) is turning a blind eye to peripheral villages when it comes to school places.

HCC revealed on Monday the allocated secondary school places for children across the county.

Across North Hertfordshire, 83.7% of the 1,221 students applying got their first choice school, with 41 pupils who applied on time not getting any of their four preferences. There were four cases of this in St Paul’s Walden out of 19 applications, and three cases out of 20 in Offley.

In Hitchin, 273 got their first choice out of 331 applications. Seven who applied on time didn’t get any of their four preferences.

Out of 355 Letchworth GC applications, 288 were given their first choice and eight were not allocated one of their four proposed options after meeting the deadline.

Mr Thomson, who taught for 25 years before retiring, said: “The concern is that Letchworth GC students will be taking up the places in Hitchin schools, meaning that children in villages around Hitchin who are on the border will have to include Bedfordshire schools in their choices.

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“Children living in Hertfordshire villages could miss out on a Hertfordshire education because of the rise in population and children flooding in from places such as Letchworth GC.

“Most of the children living in villages have grown up together through nursery, primary and junior school and all of sudden find that they will be moving to secondary school without their friends. This can have a negative impact and can lead to truancy and youth crime.”

A Hitchin resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Children who live near Hitchin’s secondary schools have been denied access to their nearest school yet children who have to commute by train, bus and car are given places.”

Chris Hayward, executive member for enterprise, education and skills at Herts County Council, said: “We want to ensure that as many children as possible get a place at one of their ranked schools.”