Most secondary schools in Welwyn Hatfield hugely oversubscribed, figures reveal

Dame Alice Owen's School

Dame Alice Owen's School - Credit: Archant

A MAJORITY of schools in Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar were hugely oversubscribed this year, new figures have shown.

Parents found out on Friday whether their children had got a place at their chosen school, and here the WHT can reveal the most popular choices. Dame Alice Owen’s, in Dugdale Hill Lane, Potters Bar, was the most in-demand school, with 665 more pupils applying than there were places.

Other schools massively oversubscribed were Chancellor’s School, in Brookmans Park, and Monk’s Walk, in WGC.

They were oversubscribed by 443 and 432 respectively.

But Onslow St Audrey’s, in Hatfield was undersubscribed – which its head has blamed on lack of investment.

The Old Rectory Drive school has filled just 86 of 150 available places.

Other schools, which, according to the statistics, did not fill their available places were Mount Grace, in Potters Bar, Sir Frederic Osborn, in WGC, and Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School, in Hatfield.

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Dame Alice Owen’s headteacher Alan Davison said: “We’re one of the most over-subscribed schools in the country.

“I think it’s because we work on the motto ‘enjoy and achieve’, which was coined by the students, and they work hard to achieve fantastic results.”

Dr Davison said this academic year alone 30 Dame Alice Owen’s pupils have been offered places at Oxford or Cambridge universities, as a measure of the school’s success.

County Hall said this year 11,660 children across Herts were allocated one of their top four choice schools – nearly 96 per cent.

The authority says more than 80 per cent of children gained a place at their first ranked school, up from 79 per cent last year.

For the first time, parents were able to rank four schools rather than three, and 225 children were allocated their fourth preference school.

Paul Meredith, headteacher at Onslow St Audrey’s, blamed a “lack of support” for the school’s relative unpopularity.

“There are clear reasons why some parents choose other schools ahead of ours,” he said.

“When parents ask to see the sports hall, the all-weather sports pitches, the dance and drama studios, and when they spot the stains on the ceilings where rain water has leaked in, many go elsewhere because they want better for their children.

“As a Local Authority school we received no support whatsoever to bring our facilities up to standard.”

But he praised his school’s “relaxed and friendly atmosphere” and good behaviour pupils and other factors, such as Ofsted reports and improved exam results. And he believes the future is bright because the school has now become an academy.

He added: “Working independently we have begun the refurbishment and modernisation of our school.

“I have no doubt that when these are completed in just over two years the increase in applications will quickly fill our school.”

> For a full breakdown of the numbers who applied to Welwyn Hatfield and Potters Bar schools, see this week’s Welwyn Hatfield Times