School places saga has an­gered par­ents

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Uk&world Update - By BEN TRUSLOVE ben.truslove@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ @Et­ben­truslove

ED­U­CA­TION chiefs have apol­o­gised to Hamp­ton par­ents who may have to re-ap­ply for pri­mary school places for their chil­dren – but they have in­sisted that ev­ery child will get a place.

Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil has said that when this year’s pri­mary school ad­mis­sions process opened in Novem­ber 2011 it could only give par­ents the choice of Hamp­ton Vale Pri­mary School or Hamp­ton Har­gate Pri­mary School be­cause there was no guar­an­tee that a third pri­mary school would ever be built in the town­ship.

How­ever in April, coun­cil of­fi­cers and O&H Hamp­ton reached an agree­ment which will see Hamp­ton Pri­mary School built off Clay­burn Road, on the same site as Hamp­ton Col­lege, and ready to open its doors in Septem­ber 2013.

For this year’s in­take there were only 150 places in Hamp­ton for 238 chil­dren whose par­ents ap­plied on time to the two schools.

Now that the third school site is avail­able – ini­tially us­ing tem­po­rary class­rooms – Jonathan Lewis, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of chil­dren’s ser­vices, said the coun­cil wanted to give par­ents in the area the chance to re-ap­ply for places. They now have un­til May 23 to do so.

Those who have al­ready got places at Hamp­ton Har­gate and Hamp­ton Vale pri­mary schools which they wish to keep do not need to re-ap­ply.

Mr Lewis said: “Un­til April we had no guar­an­tee we would have a new school, we didn’t have the land.

“I couldn’t prom­ise it and raise ex­pec­ta­tions un­til it was cer­tain.

“I apol­o­gise to par­ents, I know it is frus­trat­ing but we can’t prom­ise some­thing we haven’t got.”

In Septem­ber 2012 the ex­tra school places will be pro­vided by two tem­po­rary class­rooms at Hamp­ton Har­gate Pri­mary School, whose pupils will then be moved into the new build­ing when it is com­pleted the fol­low­ing year.

An ad­di­tional class will be cre­ated at Hamp­ton Vale Pri­mary School to make up for the short­fall in places left over. These chil­dren will re­main at Hamp­ton Vale through­out their pri­mary school ca­reer.

But the move has an­gered some par­ents.

Craig Buck, of Sil­ver Hill, Hamp­ton Har­gate, said: “I now have to re-ap­ply as some­one at the coun­cil for­got they have a new school and needed to in­clude it in the Septem­ber feed. It is dis­grace­ful.”

Fig­ures across the rest of the city showed im­prove­ments in the num­ber of par­ents get­ting their first pref­er­ence.

This year 2,336 re­ceived their first choice, which was 88 per cent of ap­pli­ca­tions, while 2,498 or 94 per cent re­ceived one of their top three pref­er­ences.

Last year, 2,086 or 85 per cent of ap­pli­cants re­ceived their first choice and 2,392 or 87 per cent re­ceived one of their top three pref­er­ences.

Cllr John Holdich, cab­i­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion, said: “I think we are do­ing all the right things and tak­ing the long-term view.

“We are try­ing to do it the best way we can. You will never get it to 100 per cent but I think we will com­pare favourably to any other au­thor­ity.”

More than 200 chil­dren have yet to be al­lo­cated a school place be­cause par­ents ap­plied late and staff sus­pect an­other 100 have not ap­plied at all. There are only 204 places spare but Mr Lewis said this was not a con­cern as some par­ents would not take up their of­fers and oth­ers would move away.

apol­ogy: Jonathan Lewis.

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