School places saga has angered parents
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.