Worthing pupil cannot get high school place in town – and has to go to Lancing

A Worthing pupil who had hoped to go to secondary school in her home town was left ‘in tears’ on discovering she had been given a school space in Lancing instead.

Kitty and Mel Chacksfield from Worthing
Kitty and Mel Chacksfield from Worthing

Mel Chacksfield said her 10-year-old daughter Kitty had carefully picked Worthing High, Bohunt and Chatsmore as her top three school choices – but missed out on a spot at all of them.

Instead, she has been placed at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing – a school she had not visited and ‘doesn’t know anything about’.

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“She was in tears,” Mrs Chacksfield said. “It’s a really hard situation.”

The mother-of-three and fitness instructor said Kitty was ‘disadvantaged’ because where they live in Landsdowne Close was far away from any local schools.

When somewhere is oversubscribed, pupils are allocated a space depending on the distance they live from the school, and she said: “It needs to be made fairer. I feel like our kids are being left out.”

She believes there are just not enough school spaces in Worthing, adding: “There’s no forward planning.

“But we are building more houses and have more people moving in.”

If they had known there was no chance of securing a place in Worthing, she said she would have taken Kitty to look at schools further afield.

“At least they could have told us so we could have prepared our kids,” she said.

If Kitty has to go to school in Lancing, Mrs Chacksfield said she does not know how she will get there and may end up having to drive her in.

“I want her to have the independence to be able to walk to school in a place that she feels safe and comfortable,” she said.

Another parent, Vanessa Powell from High Salvington, has also spoken out after her son Zeus missed out on a space at his top three chosen Worthing schools – Bohunt, Worthing High and Durrington.

She said he was ‘absolutely devastated’ to be placed at St Andrews school instead.

“He does not want to go to a single sex school, he doesn’t want to be in a religious environment,” she said.

“If people want to go, I don’t have a problem with that. But what I’m saying is it’s a different offering.

“It should not be allocated to someone who has put down three mixed non religious schools. It will really affect my son.

“He should have the freedom to learn in an open environment.”

She also believes that Zeus, who splits his time between her home in High Salvington and his father’s in Findon, has been ‘penalised’ because of where he lives.

“It seems like Findon Valley is like a black hole,” she said.

The county council said places were provided for all 9,143 secondary school applicants, with 98 per cent of those who applied on time offered one of their three preferences.

In Worthing, 52 children were not offered one of their three preferences, including 15 who did not apply on time.

They have been offered either their catchment or next nearest school, the spokesman said.

“We do appreciate how disappointing this can be for pupils and families and these applicants will have received a letter explaining the reason and the appeal process, as well as where to go to for advice,” the spokesman said.

“We work closely with schools on place planning and admissions and this year our staff attended various meetings in Worthing, where we discussed the number of applicants and the allocation of places with headteachers.

“We also offered to provide advice and guidance at parents evenings and we encouraged parents and carers to read all of the available information on our website, which includes last year’s allocated distances, prior to making their application for a school place.

“We constantly review the number of places in each area, but each year the demand on individual schools is very difficult to predict until parents have applied and expressed their preferences.”