Lib Dem backlash at ‘failing’ school allocations system

Education. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Education. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The county’s Liberal Democrat representatives have hit out at the school allocations system which they say is failing parents across Herts.

Although more than 94 per cent of Herts children have been allocated a place at one of their preferred schools this year, many have discovered they have not yet been placed at all, as additional spots in existing and new free schools were not confirmed until after the deadline.

Lib Dem spokesman on education and childrens’ services at Herts County Council Mark Watkin said: “Hundreds of families across the county have a worrying few weeks ahead while they wait to see if the council can find any extra capacity in their area.

“Parents want to see their children in a good, local school and not having a school place for a child is very stressful.

“I am also very concerned for those parents who have not been able to obtain one of their selected schools or will have to travel miles to have their child educated and shall continue to demand that the county ensures more school places are provided where they are needed in good time for 2015-16.

“I am looking at where there are real blackspots for local families and making sure that County tackles these as soon as possible with extra forms of admission, or if necessary looking at where we can build new schools.

“The real frustration is that so many families are going through so much stress, and so many young children are missing out on the start in life that they deserve, because we are all still paying for the cynical school closures programme that the Conservatives undertook in the 1990s.

“We are in this position because of short-sighted and greedy decisions that were made to save money rather than to make sure our children get the excellent education they deserve.”

The council’s school admissions team processed more than 18,300 applications this year. The total of 17,700 Hertfordshire families were either informed of their offer yesterday or can expect to today.

Across the county, 10 existing schools will now be admitting extra pupils, though none of these are in Dacorum.

Parents must apply direct to the county council for one of 60 available places also available at the new Jupiter Community Free School, along with two other new free schools planned for Watford.

“The decision to add places at the continuing interest stage was taken because confirmation of these new places became available after the application process closed, and we want to make sure that all families have equal access to them. It is vitally important that all families are treated equally within a clear and transparent process.”

All parents and carers already offered a school place must respond by 30 April 2014.

Click here for more information on how to make a continuing interest application, and the timescales involved.

Click here to read the full story on this year’s school allocations system.