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Parents in Radlett and Shenley miss out on places at chosen school
Hundreds of parents planning to send their children to a free school whose opening was delayed have been left "devastated" after they were not offered a place at a chosen school.
According to figures from Hertfordshire County Council, fewer than half of Radlett parents and only 63 per cent of those in Shenley were given their first choice of school when allocations were revealed yesterday.
A quarter of children were offered schools they had not chosen at all, because distance puts them at the bottom of the priority lists.
Nearly 200 of these parents had been planning to send their children to Harperbury Free School, which was due to open this September.
However, the Department of Education failed to find the school a site in time, meaning parents will be forced to accept places at other schools, some of which are more than an hour’s bus ride from their homes.
Daniel Posner, who lives in Shenley, has been offered a place for his son at Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood, which was not one of his choices.
Mr Posner said: “It was never an option for us.
“Yesterday should have been a day of happiness and excitement of things to come having received our place at Harperbury Free School. Instead it was a day filled with bewilderment and despair.
“My son was full of worry and fear at the thought of having to go to a school that he really didn't want to or expect to have to go to.”
Sharon Lang, who lives in Radlett, is a member of Harperbury Parents’ Action Group, which is campaigning have the school open this year. Her daughter is currently in Year 6 and has been offered a place in St Albans.
She said: “Our daughter will have hours of travelling time every day.
“That’s a huge financial cost to us. We have a son in Year 5, and if Harperbury opens a year late, our kids will be at different schools.”
Emma Eaves, who also lives in Radlett, has been involved in the Harperbury project from day one.
She said: “At every stage we met government targets and were told what a fantastic job we were doing, but at the last minute they pulled the plug. We have gone from huge excitement last May to utter devastation. Our son has been offered his third choice of school.”
Cllr Chris Hayward, who has responsibility for education, said Hertfordshire Council worked hard to make sure as many children as possible get a place at one of their ranked schools.
He added: “I do appreciate that some parents may be disappointed with the school they have been allocated, but would encourage them to visit the school and speak to the headteacher before dismissing the offered place. They may be pleasantly surprised by what they see.”
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