Taking pot luck

PUBLISHED: 11:14 08 March 2007 | UPDATED: 11:40 06 May 2010

Hitchin Girls’ School – has three times as many applicants as places

Hitchin Girls’ School – has three times as many applicants as places

PLACES at two same-sex schools in Comet country have been assigned using a lottery-style scheme. Free spaces at both Hitchin Girls and Hitchin Boys schools were filled at random by Hertfordshire County Council in a new approach aimed at spreading the pl

PLACES at two same-sex schools in Comet country have been assigned using a lottery-style scheme.

Free spaces at both Hitchin Girls' and Hitchin Boys' schools were filled at random by Hertfordshire County Council in a new approach aimed at spreading the places more widely.

Vacant places at five other community single-sex schools in Hertfordshire were also allocated this way.

The council have said that single-sex education is a popular choice for many Hertfordshire parents and the number of applications regularly outnumbers the places available in its schools.

There were 160 places available at Hitchin Boys' School this year, but the school received 458 applications. The same number of free places was available at Hitchin Girls' School which received 469 applications, almost three times as many as available places.

Both schools currently have a large priority area around them, and residents living within that area have an increased chance of gaining a place.

Other places are then allocated to parish or town areas within each priority area in proportion to the number of applications received from that area.

Under the new system places have still been allocated proportionally to each area, but when the number of applications has exceeded the places available and once priority groups have been allocated places, applicants are selected randomly using their unique reference numbers.

The priority groups are:

* Children in public care and children who have a statement of special educational needs which names the school;

* Children who have a particular medical or social need to go to the school;

* Children who have a brother or sister at the school at the time of admission;

* Children who live in the priority area and it is their nearest community school.

Councillor David Lloyd, the council's executive member for education, said the system will give all families in each priority area a chance of gaining a place at one of the schools.

A spokesman for the council said the new system was not something the council was actively seeking to reproduce for mixed-sex schools in the county.

Almost 12,000 Hertfordshire children were allocated one of their three ranked schools, bringing the success rate up to 93.4 per cent for the council, an increase of 0.5 per cent over 2006.

If parents did not get a place at one of their preferred schools they can ask to be included on the school's continuing interest list and they can find further information at www.hertsdirect.org.uk/admissions or call 01438 737500.

The closing date for appeals is 4pm on March 30.

If you have an experience with the way the council has allocated a school place to your child, we would like to hear from you. Email editorial@thecomet.net or phone 01438 866200 and tell us your views.


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