What are your views on this?

My Grandaughter has been refused a place at Whitchurch Primary school, it has gone to appeal, but still she got refused.

I feel so strongly about this as we are a Whitchurch family, my husband has lived here for 45 years, and I have been here for 43 years, our three children were born and brought up here, attending all the usual local groups brownies, beavers, cubs, guides and scouts etc. All three have gone to Whitchurch primary school and then onto Testbourne. In fact my daughter used to be a leader at Brownies, and now runs the after school club, and my other daughter and son used to be lifeguards at Testbourne swimming pool, all three helping out in the community!

However my son got married and had to move to Andover with his wife as they couldn’t afford any property in Whitchurch! They have both worked really hard buying and renovating their property to enable them to afford the move back into Whitchurch. Early this year they achieved their dream to buy a property here and moved into their home at the Knowlings.

Their eldest daughter is in year 1 at Whitchurch primary, but sadly their youngest child who is due to start school in September has been refused a place, the school is full and the local authority has offered her a place at Overton instead; they will fund her transport (would you send a four year old in a taxi by herself?)

What is going to happen if anyone else moves into Whitchurch, will Overton have spaces for them?

I would be happy to hear others’ comments.

Kind Regards

Kathy Hardy

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Pressure on Whitchurch services

With local services such as the surgery, schools and transport being stretched, 350 more houses planned, and a Neighbourhood Plan now underway, Borough, County and Town Councillors have been asked to comment, as all are involved in Housing, Planning, and Education issues.

Their replies will be posted here when received.

Comments (6)

  • Mike Stead

    [The following is a personal statement and is not an official response from Whitchurch Primary or the Board of Governors]

    As a recently retired parent governor at Whitchurch Primary I would like to make it clear that in the last four years the school has done everything possible to accommodate all children applying. From memory, no-one has been turned away until now (I may be incorrect, but that’s how I recall it), and as governors we prided ourselves on making sure local children could attend their local school. The school has a fixed number of classrooms, and in may classes has reached the maximum allowed number of students under law. In previous years a lot of work went in to mixing classes/years, to accommodate all applicants. I’m guessing that this year there were no more options left to the school, hence why even after appeal, no place could be found.

    I’m certain that the school team did everything possible within their power, but classroom limits and class numbers are finite, and in this case there was no option but to say ‘full up’. There is frequently a lot of variation year-to-year, and we’ve seen several ‘bulges’ move through the school recently, requiring mixed classes and classroom changes to accommodate.

    People should not blame the school, or the head teacher, or the governors. They should instead blame the Government for slashing education funding, the County Council for the funding cuts in buildings, and the Borough Council for approving housing developments over the last decade with no increase in school classrooms.

    Any parent will of course have great sympathy for the family affected. We should apportion blame and seek answers from those responsible who have influence over budgets and policies – Our Conservative MP George Young, the leadership of Conservative-controlled Hampshire County Council, and the leadership of Conservative-controlled Basingstoke & Deane. I’m not saying differently-flavoured bodies would have fared any better, but there is a pattern there, make of it what you will.

  • Karen S

    I sympathise with your son’s plight. A similar thing happened to us 13 years ago when Hillside and Caesar’s Way were built. We were told our son (age 7) could get in the primary school but not our daughter (age 9). The council would pay to take my daughter to Overton but that would have been a logistical nightmare in getting home in time to receive her. The council also said if I decided to send both my children to Overton they would still only allow my daughter to travel in the taxi. I took it to appeal but luckily a place became available before the appeal. I would probably advise your son not to send his younger daughter to school – I bet a place will appear.

  • Penny Turner

    Surely the problem here is the application of a rigid law on maximum class sizes. A little flexibility would allow the child to be accomodated, even if it means sharing a desk for a few weeks.

    • Mike Stead

      …I wonder what the parents of the other children in that class would have to say about that? Where do you draw the line? The UK already has the largest average class sizes in Europe, and about 6th or 7th in the world.

      The legal limit for Year R classes is 30, and can be increased on appeal for siblings like twins, or for MoD children. I imagine as this has gone to appeal and been refused that option has already been tried.

      Michael Gove wants us to emulate Finland’s education system – he could start by building twice as many classrooms and hiring twice as many teachers. what this poor family are suffering is the end result of decades of underinvestment. http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/sep/11/education-compared-oecd-country-pisa

  • Fiona hardy (mother of child in question)

    Thank you for your support. Just to give you this years figures for the children of year r. 64 places were allocated, instead of the 60 set places, this was done to accommodate catchment and a non catchment children. An extra teacher has been provided by the LA on a termly contract so the school can operate under the guidelines of the law till both year r classes return to PAN. One of the extra spaces has already become free, 3 more children have to leave before an official is available and the year returns back down to PAN.
    In the mean time we will as a family have to try a figure out how to be in to places at once, while working. I’m lucky I can drive and so great full we have a loving and supportive family network to help us.
    We have considered leaving Amber at rising fives pre school till compulsory school age, this would give us till January for a space to open up. We r unsure if this would be a better solution to her settling into a new school only to be moved, or not. Also I am not sure this option would be fair either as Amber was “ready” for school last year.

    We just live in hope that a solution will be found or a space will open up quickly.

  • Graham Burgess

    One of my hobby horses is to do with how the Victorians and those responsible after the 2nd world war built with a strategic overview.

    More houses, more shops, more parks, more schools, more doctors, more parks (with parkies; bandstands, all sports facilities; superb floral displays). Buses and trains worked more efficiently.

    Very little efficient strategic planning in place now.

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