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Hinchley Wood School fails in admissions attempt
Children from Claygate and Thames Ditton could struggle for secondary school places again, after the Department for Education (DfE) rejected plans to change Hinchley Wood School’s admission policy.
The secondary school put in an application to vary its admissions criteria for the September 2014 intake, after pupils in neighbouring areas failed to secure places at their nearest school this year.
Children living in Claygate suffered this year and were not allocated places at their nearest schools in the borough, resulting in the Claygate Class Action group being reformed.
Instead, children had to accept places at Epsom and Ewell High School, which could take more than an hour to travel to by public transport.
In the plans, Hinchley Wood School asked to change its entry criteria so families living in Thames Ditton, Esher and Claygate would be able to take places as a priority.
Under the current admissions policy, children in Hook and Surbiton have an equal chance of getting into the school as those living in Thames Ditton and Claygate.
The decision from the Education Funding Agency states that an in-year variation will only be considered if the adjudicator agreed there was a “major change of circumstances”.
The school’s new headteacher, Ben Bartlett, said: “We are disappointed that we have not been able to address the needs of those families who live in Claygate and Thames Ditton and who do not have the choice of another local and easily accessible secondary school.
“I can only express my sympathy for those families who may be affected by this decision and share their frustration. “While the proposed change would not have excluded those children living in KT6 and KT9, we are aware that families living in those parts of our catchment area also have the option to apply to a number of Kingston schools.
“The governing body and I will now take the time to review our options before deciding whether to go through a formal consultation process on any change to the school’s admissions criteria for those families wishing to apply for places here for September 2015.”
Dominic Raab, MP for Esher and Walton, also criticised the DfE’s decision.
Mr Raab said: “This is very disappointing news. It is notable that both Hinchley Wood and Esher High were willing to be flexible in helping to meet the demand from local parents.
“Frankly, I am disappointed that Surrey County Council as the responsible authority waited for this problem to bubble up, and then rushed to apply a sticking plaster solution.
“It’s a lack of long term planning that is so frustrating. I have already urged then to look again at this issue as a matter of urgency, and will do everything I can to get a long term answer in place.”
The DfE was unable to comment further on the decision.
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