‘There are sufficient places for every child’

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Education chiefs swooped on Hucknall this week in a bid to reassure parents that there is NOT a ‘schools’ crisis’ in the town.

Officers from County Hall made two presentations over two days to explain the current situation and admission criteria when applying for school places.

The issue reached boiling point last month when a number of parents didn’t get their preferred choice despite siblings already being at school and being given placements out of town as far as Bestwood Village and Eastwood.

But the officials from Nottinghamshire County Council stood by the process and said it was the ‘fairest system for all’ and put the blame back on the parents for not following the correct procedures.

“It’s impossible to please everybody and meet the admissions criteria,” explained John Slater, service director for education standards and inclusion.“We don’t have a system of choice but of preference.”

Mr Slater explained that some parents had named only one school as their preference and not used the three additional back-up options which had created the problem.

“Some parents believe that by putting just one school down they will get in but this is not the case if the school becomes full with children who meet the higher criteria level.”

Mr Slater added thatif the one and only preference is not met then they will receive a mandatory offer but only once all the other applications have been dealt with.

“It’s like putting all your wages on the 2.30 at York,” added Mr Slater during the meeting, which was held at The Grove Community Centre, off Farleys Lane. “If you spread your bet you increase your chances of a better outcome.

“A parent’s best bet is to select the catchment school first which is a higher criteria in the process than a school out of catchment even with siblings already in place.”

Although Mr Slater and his team stressed the importance of the process, some parents queried whether the criteria order was the best.

One family living on Albert Street questioned the catchment areas as they can see the new Beardall Fields School, but their catchment is actually Leen Mills.

Mr Slater added that each year the county council consult with the public over the admissions system and it could be something looked at in the future.

“But by making the situation better for some people you could disadvantage others,” he added.

Parents said they did find the meeting informative and worthwhile.

“It’s very difficult for a first time parent to know all the procedures and what you should do when it comes to getting your child in school,” said Nicola Bradshaw of Shortwood Avenue who has four children under eight.

“There is a lot of information on the internet but it’s interesting to have the four choice option clarified,” said Tanya Clayton of Albert Street who has a three-year-old and one on the way.”The rules regarding catchment in new developments has also been made clearer today.”