Last week, parents were informed by West Sussex County Council of the secondary school their child had been allocated. The vast majority were allocated a space at one of their three preferred choices, a very large number at their first choice.
However, I was appalled to hear that a group of children in Southwater have been allocated Burgess Hill Academy. This is no comment on the school in question but the distance involved (and its impact on social and school activities for these youngsters) is a clear matter of huge concern.
Starting secondary school is a daunting time for children and parents alike and this allocation will have added to this.
After hearing the results of the school admissions process I spent much of last Friday speaking to the County Education Department and the Heads of all our local secondary schools.
Despite there currently being a bulge in admissions to secondary schools County have assured me that there are sufficient places in Horsham’s secondary schools to accommodate local pupils, with a considerable margin. However the distribution of applications and the balance of co-ed and single sex schools has led to a significant problem.
For all parents who, for whatever reason, are dissatisfied by their child’s allocation the correct procedure is to go through the formal appeals process and it is really important that they do so.
That was my main message when I joined Southwater parents at an impromptu meeting on Saturday morning. Alongside this I am raising with County practical ideas for them to consider as to how the situation could this year be eased and asking how we can prevent the same situation arising next year.
We need the appeals process to be conducted as swiftly to give parents and children certainty as soon as possible.
We have great local schools but we want to be able to educate all our young people locally. It is critical that parents can have full confidence in the admissions procedure and clearly this year has given rise to major questions.
As ever I would encourage any constituent who has specific concerns they want to raise with me to email me on jeremy.quin.mp@parliament.