Lack of Horsham school places is ‘disgraceful’

I attach a letter that I have written to Jeremy Quin MP regarding the appalling way children have been allocated their secondary school places for the academic year starting September 2019.

Tanbridge House School
Tanbridge House School

The majority of Southwater children did not receive their catchment school and many did not even get a Horsham school, instead being allocated Thomas Bennett in Crawley and The Weald in Billingshurst.

The overall housing / school issue in Horsham is dire with so many new builds being authorised with no investment in the local infrastructure to support it and ensure all our children have a place in a Horsham school.

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However this year the situation is all the more appalling in terms of the blatant disregard of parental / child choice and the ambiguous catchment / postcode lines. None of this was indicated at the time of application, nor at any point following.

Both parents and teachers were totally unprepared to counsel children once the emails had come out on Friday morning informing children of their secondary school allocation.

It was devastating for all children and families concerned, many of whom were inconsolable. I along with many other teachers and parents would like a public response from Jeremy Quin.

Dear Mr Quin,

I am writing to you on the subject of Horsham’s school admissions system.

As I’m sure you are aware, there are currently not enough secondary school places in Horsham to cater for the needs of those children who need a place in September 2019.

The majority of children in Southwater have not been given their catchment area school of Tanbridge House, with many not even offered a Horsham school. These children have been offered The Weald in Billingshurst and Thomas Bennett in Crawley.

This disgraceful situation of too few school places is a direct result of the increased housing developments in the Horsham area (which I support) BUT without the much needed investment in local public service infrastructure to support the rapid growth of housing.

Why are the building developers not being asked to invest in our local community when they are clearly making a huge profit from the thousands of houses being built and sold at premium prices?

Why are you not asking them to invest in our communities to support families currently living and moving into the area?

What is being done with the thousands of pounds of extra council tax money the local government will be taking from the extra houses?

I imagine you are aware of the army of disgruntled parents who are voicing similar concerns and who want to work with the local council to seek a sustainable solution.

Ultimately, the medium to long term solution is the clear need for more schools and school places.

However, we also need to resolve the short term solution to see the children of hard working parents in your constituency being given the schools that fall within their catchment area; with no exceptions.

What is the point of a catchment area when schools do not have enough places to offer the children in it? Even though Bohunt Horsham is due to open in September 2019, it was not part of the WSCC process and is still not my children’s catchment school. Will the catchment areas change to accommodate the new school?

I would like to understand how you as my local MP will be lobbying on my behalf to address this scandalous situation that so many children find themselves in now and will do in future years.

Andrea dobinson

Hazel Close, Southwater