School Policy Shock

THE announcement of secondary school allocation places in Comet country brought an instant backlash from many parents. The biggest protest came from parents with children at Knebworth Primary School who have united to fight the prospect of sending them to

THE announcement of secondary school allocation places in Comet country brought an instant backlash from many parents.

The biggest protest came from parents with children at Knebworth Primary School who have united to fight the prospect of sending them to a Stevenage school they don't want.

Instead of pupils being allocated places at Barnwell School, Stevenage, all the children have been assigned to Thomas Alleyne School.

Mother-of-three Sam Jellett, 34, of Deanscroft, Knebworth, said: "Parents are furious. Barnwell is our closest school and not one child will be going there. The decision is outrageous and we will fight it."

Mandy Smith, 41, of Hornbeam Spring, Knebworth, who was hoping her son, James, 10, would head for Barnwell in September, said: "Parents are very angry and hopefully we can fight this decision.

"We had been led to believe Knebworth Primary School leavers would be earmarked for Barnwell as it was the closest school to the village."

Most Read

Barnwell headteacher Richard Westergreen-Thorne said: "The school had 260 places and we were heavily over-subscribed.

"I knew there was going to be a lot of disappointed people in Knebworth and I sympathise with them. But there was no guarantee their children would come here."

Donna Sparks, 37, of Hertford Road, Stevenage, was hoping to get her daughter, Bethany, 10, currently at Longmeadow School, into Barnwell.

"Feelings are running high among parents with children at Longmeadow School who failed to get them into Barnwell," said Mrs Sparks.

Another angry parent was Simon Middleditch, 38, of Kings Down, Hitchin, whose daughter Rebekah, 11, was offered a place at Highfield School, Letchworth GC, when their first choice had been Hitchin Girls' School.

"The girls' school is on our doorstep. Now she will have to travel miles. This is nonsense and I have made an immediate appeal," said Mr Middleditch.

Cllr Keith Emsall, executive member for education at Herts County Council (HCC), said: "Although a few parents may be disappointed with the school they have been allocated I would encourage them to go back and have a look round first before dismissing it."

Knights Templar School in Baldock was massively over-subscribed as was Hitchin Boys' School and Fearnhill in Letchworth GC also exceeded its limit. Hitchin Girls' School and The Priory in Hitchin and Highfield refused to reveal their allocation figures.

HCC said the number of children who got their first choice school in Stevenage was 860 with 66 getting their second choice and 29 their third choice out of 979 applications.

In North Herts, 1,183 children were placed in their first choice school, 151 in their second choice and 38 in their third choice out of 1,408 applications.

Figures for Bedfordshire were unavailable at the time of going to press.

* There is another education storm brewing at Great Ashby where Round Diamond Primary School is turning local children away.

"This year children who live 550 metres away from the school, in Fairfield Way, didn't get into the school and have been allocated other schools even though we are their closest school," said Round Diamond headteacher Deborah Godbold.

"This situation makes it very difficult for us to be the school serving the local community since so many children who live on Great Ashby can't attend the school."

Ian Simpson, Liberal Democrat organiser for North Herts, said: "At the very best the school should have been built to allow for future expansion as the estate grew.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter