Banburyshire students fare well in secondary school placements

Despite record numbers of applicants, the majority of pupils across Banburyshire have been offered their first choice of secondary school for 2019/20.

Across Oxfordshire almost 86 per cent of applications have been awarded a place at their first choice school while 94 per cent secured a place in one of the three choices they listed on their application.

Approximately 400 more applications have been received for secondary schools this year compared to last year, making the total number of applications 7,300.

Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education and cultural services, said: “Our school admissions team has done an excellent job in ensuring so many parents and children have been offered their first choice despite this being an exceptionally difficult year. I am grateful to them for the hard work they’ve done.”

She added: “Although the 2019/20 national average will not be published for a few months we are very likely to be ahead of that yet once more in Oxfordshire, as we have been in all previous years.

“Our aim as a council is to give every child a good start in life and our school admissions team plays its part in that year in, year out.

“We are grateful to those secondary schools who have agreed to increase their admission number this year as an exceptional measure to make sure all Oxfordshire children have been allocated places in schools this September.”

A number of schools had expanded where necessary in anticipation of an increase in the number of applications, including Bloxham’s Warriner School.

Headteacher, Dr Annabel Kay said: “The local authority asked us to increase our PAN (published admission number) by a further 60 places about four years ago.

“We are in the third year of this increase and have an extensive building project currently underway to accommodate the additional children.”

Dr Kay added: “This year we were significantly oversubscribed again and the local authority asked if we could take a further 30 students which we cannot as we have no room for them.”

It was a similar story in Northamptonshire which also saw record numbers of applications for school places across the county.

More than 8,900 secondary school places were allocated to pupils across Northamptonshire, an increase of over 450 compared with last year.

Cllr Fiona Baker, county council cabinet member for children’s services, families and education, said: “This year we have seen the highest ever number of applications for a secondary school place in Northamptonshire – an increase of over 11 per cent over the past two years.

“Notwithstanding the significant increase in applications, I’m pleased that we have been able to offer more families (94 per cent) a place at one of their preferred schools.”

Despite the increase in applications, the proportion of families securing a place at their first preference school has risen to 77.3 per cent from 76.5 per cent in 2018, while the number of families being offered a place at one of their three preferred schools is 94 per cent.

Chenderit headteacher, Jane Cartwright, said: “At Chenderit School we have established a strong, supportive and successful school community where staff and students strive to ‘aim high, work hard and be nice’ and, consequently, we are a popular secondary school choice for students and their parents/carers in this area.

“In recent years we have increased our pupil admission number (PAN) from 172 to 180 to be able to take more students. For many years we have been oversubscribed and this year is no exception: our current PAN is 180 and this year, 180 Y6 pupils have been allocated places with us for September.

“By October 31, 2017 the total number of first, second and third preferences received for Chenderit School was 285 (for 180 places).

“We do not yet know what the figures will be for this year, though we expect them to be similar.”

School place allocations for late applicants will take place in April.

There will, however, be many students across the region who did not get offered a place at one of their preferred schools.

Chenderit headteacher, Jane Cartwright, said: “Sadly, some pupils who applied to come to Chenderit this year will have been disappointed not to have been offered a place with us, but there is an appeals process that we encourage parents and carers to follow.”

The process is the same regardless of which local authority (LA) the school falls under.

Firstly any appeal must be submitted 20 school days from when the decision letter was sent.

Parents must appeal against each rejection separately and only one appeal per rejection is permitted.

The LA will set a deadline for parents to submit evidence to support their appeal and this date should be supplied with the decision letter.

Anything submitted after the deadline might not be considered and may result in hearing delays.

The LA must give at least ten school days’ notice of a forthcoming hearing and appeals must be heard within 40 school days of the deadline for making an appeal.

Hearings themselves consist of an independent panel of three or more who will outline the reason for the refusal and give parents the chance to counter those points.

The appeals panel will decide if the school’s admission criteria were followed and comply with the admissions code.

If the criteria were not properly followed or do not comply with the school admissions code the appeal must be upheld.

Decisions are usually made within five days of a hearing.