Hitchin mum hits out at ‘crazy’ school allocation system after son is offered place in Letchworth

A mother has hit out over Hertfordshire County Council's school allocations policy

A mother has hit out over Hertfordshire County Council's school allocations policy - Credit: © Royalty-Free/CORBIS

A mother has hit out at Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) secondary school allocations process after her son was rejected from a school he lives 10 minutes away from but offered a place at a school in another town which he didn’t pick.

Thomas Gentry, who attends Whitehill Junior School in Hitchin, applied for a place at Hitchin Boys’ School in September as his first choice but has been offered a place at Fearnhill School in Letchworth GC instead.

His mother, Natalie Hutchison, said her 11-year-old son’s friends are all going to their first choice school and that others in his class got the school he wanted even though it was their second or third choice.

The 41-year-old has also claimed there is a boy in her son’s class who lives in Letchworth GC but was given a place at Hitchin Boys’ School.

During the application her son put The Nobel School in Stevenage as his second choice and The Highfield School in Letchworth GC as his third, leaving the fourth ranked option blank. Subsequently a place at Fearnhill School was offered, which has now been rejected.

The family lives off Grove Road, Hitchin – a 10 minute walk from Hitchin Boys’ School in Grammar School Walk. The Priory School in Hitchin is their nearest school, a similar distance from their home.

Ms Hutchison said: “We are watching our son change before our eyes. He was a fun, happy child and is now becoming distant and withdrawn, but most of all he is extremely upset, as we all are. He has no idea what his future holds and it is unimaginable to consider what he must feel like going to school listening to others excitedly talk about their new schools.

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“The whole process is crazy. He feels rejected and I don’t know what we will do next but we will fight it the whole way.”

A spokesman for HCC said: “We encourage all parents to apply for their child’s nearest school. In this case they did not and had they done so they would have gained a place at that school. All three schools they did apply for became full on allocation day by applicants who had a higher priority on the admission criteria. In line with our published policy, the nearest school with an available place was offered as a ‘non-ranked allocation’ which was nearer than both the second and third preference schools.”