Potters Bar families launch petition over school places
PUBLISHED: 16:01 09 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:01 09 May 2017
Furious Potters Bar families have launched a petition demanding the county council create a "bulge" class at one of the area's popular schools.
Last month the town emerged as Hertfordshire’s worst area for ranked school allocations, with only 85.7 per cent of families getting a school of their choice – compared to 96 per cent county-wide.
Numerous parents in the west of the town have since banded together to request that another class be added in Cranborne, with the petition garnering around 150 signatures so far.
The council previously claimed there was no shortage of places, pointing to 255 places being offered in response to 246 applications.
However, parents claimed that the local authority failed to include 14 applications from South Mimms, despite “ironically” including 15 available spots at the village’s St Giles’ CoE School.
The petition reads: “Therefore, there are in fact 260 applicants for 255 places.
“There are a number of children who have been allocated a school which is beyond reasonable walking distance, approximately two-plus miles from their home, including some being outside of Potters Bar.
“Because of this these children will face disadvantages both socially and educationally.”
Cranborne Primary School headteacher Alan Cocker told the Potters Bar Edition that he is “very sympathetic” to families who unsuccessfully applied, and would be able to help with a bulge class if requested by the council.
However, he stressed that would depend on the council deeming it appropriate, and all vacancies at other schools would need to be filled first.
Mr Cocker said: “We do have facility to go larger if we need to, and we have said to the planning team [at the council] in the past if there was a need we would be sympathetic.
“But it’s about not having enough places in the town, and there are enough, it’s just about how they are distributed.
“I can’t put a bulge class in and still have vacancies in other schools.”
Overall Cranborne received 207 applications, more than four times that of Oakmere (46), where all 35 children not offered a preferred place were subsequently offered a spot.
A council spokeswoman said: “While acknowledging localised pressures, there are sufficient places in existing schools for children living in Potters Bar to attend a school within the town.
“In Potters Bar, all children with non-ranked allocations, with the exception of one, were offered a place at a school within the town.
“Movement at the continuing interest phase is also likely to result in outcomes improving.”
She added: “Any child who has been allocated a place over two miles (statutory walking distance) will be entitled to free transport if they could not have been allocated a place closer to home.
“The council will continue to monitor demand for the future and if forecast numbers rise in future years and there are not enough school places to meet the demand then we will, where necessary, provide additional places through temporary or permanent expansion depending on whether the demand is sustained.”
Anyone interested can view or sign the petition here: https://www.signandshare.org/p/additional-primary-school-places-potters-bar-west/