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Disappointment at refusals for Suffolk schools

Sue Cook, director of children and young people's services at Suffolk County Council
Sue Cook, director of children and young people's services at Suffolk County Council

The rate of school children being offered any of their preferred primary schools has dropped in the county, with some oversubscribed schools refusing tens of applications.

Suffolk County Council’s figures for primary school entrants for this September show that 90.21 per cent were offered their first choice, compared to 91.93 per cent for last year’s intake.

A total of 95.81 per cent got at least their second preferences met, compared to 96.75 per cent last year, and 97.21 per cent got at least their third choice met, compared to 97.8 per cent last year.

Of 29 refusals for Cedars Park Primary, in Stowmarket, as many as 24 – the county’s highest – involved families living within the school’s 0.163 mile catchment area.

Cllr Gary Green, a governor at the school who is also the area’s representative on Suffolk County Council, said: “The situation is the same as it was last year, the school was built for an estate of 1,250 homes and has grown to over 2,000 homes.

“The infrastructure wasn’t put in place to allow the school to grow with it - the school’s been extended once and can’t be extended any more.”

A council spokeswoman said: “The county council recognises Cedars Park Primary is a popular school which is heavily oversubscribed, however due to the limited size of the school site there is little that can be done to expand. In recognition of the need for further primary school places in the area, Trinity Primary School was opened last year.”

Meanwhile, Forest Academy, in Brandon, refused 32 applications, four within its 1.094 mile catchment area, and Lakenheath Primary refused 23, seven from within its 0.488 mile catchment.

One parent, who did not wish to be named for fear it could affect the outcome of her appeal, was bitterly disappointed her son had lost out on a place at Lakenheath Primary.

She said: “I feel like we have been kicked out of the village, though we live less than half a mile from the school.”

“If he has to go to another school, say in Mildenhall, he would be a stranger in the area, and it’s unfair for him as a young child to have to go to school on a bus on his own,” she added.

On the Bury Free Press Facebook page, Sally Flangalang Hancock said: “Big issues at Lakenheath Primary School! Totally not right!!!!!”

Also on Facebook, Corrinne Lucas said: “And again Lakenheath Primary School. I’m already worried for my son who will start school next year. We live at the end of the village where a few children have lost out and have to go to the next village out of Lakenheath. So sad. Hope it’s not the same next year.”

In Bury St Edmunds, there were 17 refusals for Guildhall Feoffment, 10 for St Louis Catholic Academy, six for Abbots Green and 16 for Sebert Wood, with just one within catchment.

Sue Cook, the council’s director for children and young people, said: “It is extremely positive to see that we have been able to manage the increase in applications this year [7,928 compared to 7,632 last year] and still offer so many pupils one of their preferred primary, infant, junior or middle schools.”

Applicants who have failed to secure a place at one of their preferred schools have the right of appeal to an independent panel. More information on how to do this is explained in parents’ offer letters.

Anyone with a child born between September 1, 2010, and August 31, 2011, who has not yet applied for a school place is urged to call the council, immediately, on 08456 000981.


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