Parents of year six pupils are shocked after discovering their children had not been given places at a Shoreham secondary school – but at one 12 miles away in Storrington.
Mother of two Kelly Wickson hoped her son Jimmy – who is currently at Swiss Gardens Primary School – would go to Shoreham Academy, an ‘outstanding’ rated school.
She called the situation ‘a complete mess up’.
“We expected our children to go to school in the town where they live,” said the 39-year-old, of Connaught Avenue.
She had put Steyning Grammar School down as her second preference, but had ‘no idea’ Jimmy could be allocated to the school’s new satellite campus in Rock Road, Storrington – a two bus journey ride away.
Travelling such a long distance is a ‘safety issue’ she said, adding that Jimmy would have less time to do his homework because of the commute.
She said: “We would never have applied to Steyning Grammar if we knew there was a possibility that our child would be expected to do a 24 mile round trip to Storrington.”
She and seven other Swiss Garden parents in the same situation believe they were misinformed by authorities and plan to appeal, she said.
Clare Tester, 41, of Old Shoreham Road, said she was ‘completely unaware’ her daughter Sorcha could be placed at the Storrington site.
The news had left Sorcha, who has already attended transition days at Shoreham Academy and had ‘always been led to believe that’s where she would go’, feeling ‘distraught’.
“This should be a really exciting time, but she’s left feeling stressed and let down,” she said.
The issue has also raised alarm for other Shoreham parents.
Suzanne Borrell, 44, of Upper Shoreham Road, is already worried about finding a secondary school for her child, who is currently in year three at Glebe Primary School.
“I think we will get to the stage where there is nowhere for children to go,” she said.
“It’s a real worry.
“There are huge house building projects proposed or under construction and no extra secondary school provision in place.”
Alastair Reid, a member of parent campaign group Future of Adur Schools Team (FAST), said the issue highlighted a ‘broken system’ where school place provision had not kept up with demand from Shoreham’s changing demographic.
FAST’s goal is to see appropriate long term planning of school place provision in Adur and has already achieved success in its campaign to ringfence contribution money from Ropetackle North housing development to improve facilities at Swiss Gardens,
The group will hold a public meeting from 8pm on Monday, April 3, at the Shoreham Centre to discuss what can be done to alleviate pressure on school places in Adur.
A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said the council worked hard to make the allocation system ‘clear and fair’.
“The ‘Information for Parents’ booklet explained that if Steyning Grammar School was oversubscribed at the Church Street Campus and there were spaces available at the Rock Road Campus then pupils would be offered a place at Rock Road,” the spokesperson said.
“All parents were required to indicate they had read this booklet before submitting their application.
“West Sussex County Council’s admissions manager for the area attended each of the parents’ open evenings at Steyning Grammar School and provided a surgery for parents wishing to ask questions in relation to their applications.
“The surgeries provided information regarding what would happen should the school be oversubscribed.
“It was also made clear at the open evening at Steyning Grammar School that parents applying from out of the catchment area could be allocated to either of the two sites.
“The additional Steyning Grammar School campus from September has increased the number of students who can attend from a wider geographical area.
“We are always happy to talk to parents about how places are allocated.
“Anyone who would like to discuss this further can contact the school admission team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 033 301 42903 .”
Appeals will be heard by independent appeal panels between April and July.
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