Fresh concerns over children finding secondary school places in Horsham

Parents in Horsham are worried that their children will face problems in securing local secondary school places this year.
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It follows parents’ anger last year when 21 children in Southwater were told they had been allocated school places 16 miles away in Burgess Hill.

Another 29 in Horsham were rejected for places at their chosen local schools. Some were allocated places at single-sex schools, against their parents’ wishes.

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And, although the Southwater children were later found schools in Horsham, it led to Horsham MP Jeremy Quin investigating the issue.

Fresh concerns are being raised over the allocation of secondary school places for children in HorshamFresh concerns are being raised over the allocation of secondary school places for children in Horsham
Fresh concerns are being raised over the allocation of secondary school places for children in Horsham

“There are real worries that similar problems will arise with the current 2024 allocations,” he said. He spoke out after organising a survey of parents’ views.

“The issue is particularly acute in Southwater,” he said. “This is because under the current policies of allocating school places at local schools students from the village are particularly vulnerable to not securing their preferred places on grounds of the distance to the schools from the village.”

He said that, historically Southwater residents had seen merit in local children being educated in the village at primary level, but then attending secondary schools in Horsham.

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But, he said, it did not mean Southwater residents would not like a secondary school in the village. He said that his survey showed 54 per cent were in favour and 46 per cent against. However, he said that fewer would support a new village school if it depended on more houses being being built in the village.

He said the current issues around secondary school places reflected a ‘temporary bulge’ in the number of pupils. Primary schools, he said, had the reverse problem with more early year places available than currently prospective pupils.

He added: "My immediate concern is for the students expecting to go to secondary school from Southwater in the short term. We must be able to educate local students in excellent local schools. There are absolutely justified parental concerns in Southwater."

He added: “While not pre-judging the outcome of local school allocations, if it repeats last year's problems, we cannot simply afford to rely on suggestions of a potential future new school as the solution, especially as its delivery, absent very significant additional housebuilding, is not guaranteed."

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