News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Saturday, 3 March 2007

The Redland Green Fiasco

Elmlea Junior School parents have been opening their post this week to discover which secondary school their children have been allocated.

Many have been disappointed that their children have not been offered places at the new Redland Green School, despite living in the “designated area of first priority” (that’s the catchment area to you and me).

Instead, the majority of Westbury parents have been offered places at Henbury or Portway Schools and many are unhappy with the offer.

The new Redland Green School has proven so popular that places have been allocated to those living in the area of first priority who are closest to the school as the crow flies.

The key paragraph from the City Council’s policy is:

Where there are more applications than there are places remaining within a particular category, the direct line distance from home to school will be used as a tie-break.

This means that despite the building of a new secondary school in North Bristol, many of those who campaigned for it appear not to be benefiting from it.

There’s a basic political issue here as well as a practical one. The practical one first. As a parent, I have to do one of the following:

(a) send my child to Henbury or Portway School

(b) appeal against the decision and hope that I can prove some failure of process

(c) pay for an independent school

(d) apply for a school in North Somerset or South Gloucestershire

The political issue is this:

Why is it so hard for middle income urban families to find a secondary school for their children that they have confidence in? Isn’t this a basic right for tax-paying families?

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