Watford: 1-In-10 Not Allocated School Of Choice

Nearly 10 per-cent of children in Watford won't be going to the first, second or third school of choice in this year's move from primary to secondary schools.

The figure is far higher in Watford than the rest of Hertfordshire says councillor Mark Watkin who's been speaking to Heart today.

Mark says: "In Watford, 10 percent of parents in Watford are now stuck and we'll have to wait to see what happens in the second and third stages if necessary. There's now a level of stress on them as they wait to find out which schools they'll have to go to.

The problem is never going to go away, but to be fair to Hertfordshire County Council, the figure for this September not making their first three choices is down on last year - but it's still more than double compared to the rest of Hertfordshire.

Many of Watford's schools organise their own admissions policies - and there's a scrabble between the schools unlike other parts of the county which don't operate as their own admissions authorities.

Parents could well see vacancies at Queens or at the Bushey Academy, Westfield or Francis Coombe in Watford. But I have to say - all the schools are much better schools than they were a few years ago, and no school in Watford or Bushey will fail your child."

Frances Button, Cabinet Member for Education told Heart: "All secondary schools in Watford have responsibility for their own admissions, which includes setting criteria for admissions and also deciding how many places are available. The local authority, as a commissioner of school places, has negotiated as many additional places as possible with the schools in the town, taking into account the current constraints of the school buildings and sites.

In the Watford area, over 90 per cent of applicants have been allocated a place at one of their four preferred schools. Historically, a significant number of children initially offered a non-ranked school are allocated a place at a preferred school through the continuing interest process.

I do appreciate that some parents may be disappointed with the school they have initially been allocated, but this is the start of the process.  They will automatically be included in the continuing interest process, when places which are not needed - for example because a family has recently moved away - are reallocated. I would stress the importance for parents in this situation to release any unwanted places as soon as possible to allow places to be reallocated. Meanwhile, I urge parents to visit the school and speak to the head teacher before dismissing the offered place. If they’re still not happy with their allocated school they can then follow the process set out in our 'Secondary - what can you do now?' leaflet which includes continuing interest and appeals processes."

 A copy of the leaflet and further advice is available www.hertsdirect.org/admissionsoptions

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