Schools lottery’ mix-up

PUBLISHED: 10:48 15 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

PROBLEMS with a new lottery-style system of allocating school places left 29 children not being offered places they were entitled to. Hertfordshire County Council has admitted its new scheme of allotting places at single-sex schools in the county has led

PROBLEMS with a new lottery-style system of allocating school places left 29 children not being offered places they were entitled to.

Hertfordshire County Council has admitted its new scheme of allotting places at single-sex schools in the county has led to a mix-up, with some children who were entitled to places at Hitchin Boys' and Hitchin Girls' schools being told they must go elsewhere.

Last week The Comet revealed the new system which the council heralded as being important to spreading available places widely across the county.

Yet concerned parents, none of whom wanted to reveal their identity as each of them was still going through the council's appeal process, contacted The Comet to say their children were not given places they were entitled to.

One parent, who was originally told his son would not be given a place at the boys' school, has since been told his son can go.

The parent said: "We're delighted now but most importantly we have a child who is delighted. I don't agree with the lottery system at all. There has to be a better way of doing things."

Speaking last week, another Hitchin parent said: "I don't play the lottery as I don't agree with it, but here is a council using a lottery to decide the educational future of my daughter.

"She lives extremely close to the school but was given a place at a school two miles away.

"Her friend lives further away from the girls' school, and meets none of the priority groups that would give her a place in the school, but she got in ahead of my daughter. I just don't understand it."

Another Hitchin parent said the system was "a complete farce".

"Almost every parent I have spoken to has been frustrated, disappointed and upset by the process. It lets us and our children down," he added.

A spokesman for the council said the authority sincerely regretted the mistake.

The spokesman said: "Due to a minor problem with the computer software used to allocate secondary school places, 29 children in the north of Hertfordshire were not offered the place at a single-sex school that they were entitled to.

"Although the fault caused some uncertainty for these children and their families which we sincerely regret, we are pleased to report that all of the pupils entitled to a place at Hitchin Boys' and Hitchin Girls' have now been offered a place there."

In all, six schools were affected by the mix-up. In addition to the two Hitchin same-sex schools, the other schools were the Letch-worth GC schools Fearnhill and Highfield, Thomas Alleyne School in Stevenage and The Priory School in Hitchin which are the schools which the 29 were originally offered a place at before the problem was rectified.


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