West Sussex father 'gobsmacked' that son did not get into chosen secondary schools

A parent from West Sussex said he was 'gobsmacked' that his son did not get into any of his chosen secondary schools.

Friday, 1st March 2019, 8:03 pm
Updated Monday, 4th March 2019, 9:15 am
Ian Miller, 50, from Findon, with his son Alfie

Ian Miller from Findon, near Worthing, found out this morning that his son Alfie, 11, was going to St Andrew's C.E. High School for Boys in Sackville Road, Worthing, despite it not being any of his three choices.

His first choice was Worthing High School, followed by Bohunt School and Chatsmore Catholic High School.

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Ian Miller, 50, from Findon, with his son Alfie

Alfie's father said he had heard that many children were crying at school this morning due to missing out on their preferred choice. He said: "We were gobsmacked when it said St Andrew's. If it was just us in isolation we would feel sorry for ourselves and appeal, but it isn't just us; next door had the same choices as us and also got St Andrew's.

"I think there will be hundreds of kids in this town that aren't going to the schools they didn't choose. It can't be right."

He felt West Sussex County Council's allocation system needed to be more flexible. He said: "For the system to fail so many people, it has to be wrong."

Alfie said he was 'shocked' when he heard. He said: "I was a bit upset, because none of my friends were going there.

"I wanted to go to my first choice because I'd get a better education there, and I didn't want to be in an all-boys school."

Regarding the atmosphere at Vale School today, where he currently studies, Alfie said: "There were quite a few people who didn't get their choices, but no-one was properly upset about it."

Ian, who is also a governor at Vale, said he was concerned that children in the village could have been worse affected due to being further away from the secondary schools.

In the wake of this morning's decision, the 50-year-old set up a Facebook page, called 'Worthing's Secondary School - Y7 Place Allocations', to see how many other families had been affected.

Ian planned to appeal the decision.

A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: "The vast majority of applicants (96.5%) were offered a place at one of their three preferred schools, with 84.2% given their first preference. A small number were not able to be offered one of their preferences.

"This could be for a number of reasons and we do appreciate how disappointing this can be for these families.

"This year we processed a total of 9,099 applications, an increase of nearly 400 from 2018, with every child offered a place to start secondary school in September 2019.

"The allocation in the Borough of Worthing has been carried out in accordance with our published arrangements, the School Admissions Code and school over-subscription criteria.

"Some schools have been heavily over-subscribed and in some cases it has not been possible to meet any of the three preferences made by applicants. Where this happens the Local Authority has a duty to allocate a place at the catchment school if space allows, or where the catchment school is full, the nearest school with a space available.

"Applicants refused a place at a school will automatically be placed on that schools waiting list after 29 March 2019. Parents refused the school of their preference also have the right of appeal, full information about appealing for a school place can be found on the county council’s website www.westsussex.gov.uk”

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