I was contacted over the weekend by a number of concerned constituents regarding the allocation of secondary school places. I recognise the distress this has caused parents and their children and I totally understand the strength of concern. The transfer from primary to secondary is hugely important step for any student and I appreciate how keen parents are for their child to attend their first choice school.
I urgently took this up with West Sussex County Council, who are the authority responsible for allocating school places. I understand the vast majority of applicants have been allocated their first choice and where this has not been possible then another of their preferred schools. However I have been contacted regarding six students (to date) who have not been allocated one of their preferred schools.
Local schools have in the past received investment to help them significantly expand the number of students they can accommodate but additional school places were required this year. I was pleased to help secure Government funding for a new secondary school to meet this demand (one of three new schools which are planned locally). The Bohunt School will initially be located close to Collyers in Hurst Road before transferring to what I am sure will be excellent purpose built premises.
I have been assured that with the opening of the new free school sufficient places should exist in local schools for students needing a secondary school place this autumn.
Bohunt has 120 places to fill and for 2019 only they are operating outside the national scheme of coordination which means that parents who have made a preference for Bohunt will have received two offers on 1 March, one from Bohunt and one for a West Sussex maintained school. Parents have been given 2 weeks to either accept or decline the place at Bohunt. After this process further places should be available to be filled in Horsham schools from the existing waiting list.
In addition to speaking to West Sussex County Council I have also been in contact with Bohunt and welcome the fact that they are still willing to receive and will try and honour applications for places in September 2019.
I would encourage any parent who is not happy with the secondary school their child has been allocated, to lodge an appeal: if their preferred school place comes up in the next two weeks this appeal can always then be dropped.
I very much hope that we will see progress on this issue shortly. While allocations are a matter for the County Council I would like to hear from parents who have applied for and not received a school place in Horsham so I can track how this is being resolved.