Hartlepool mum’s plea for more primary school places

Hayley Lancaster with her son Luke Robertson in their West View home.
Hayley Lancaster with her son Luke Robertson in their West View home.

A mum is calling on Hartlepool education chiefs to provide more primary school places in town after councillors decided not to change its admissions policy based on nursery attendance.

Mum-of-two Hayley Lancaster says town leaders must provide more places in areas of town that are oversubscribed as new homes continue to be built, adding more pressure.

Hayley, from the West View area of Hartlepool, is supporting an online petition which has been started to put pressure on Hartlepool Borough Council to act.

She said: “What we’re asking for is more places in local schools for the children that need them.

“There continues to be houses being built at Bishop Cuthbert, Middle Warren, and planning permission has been granted for the former King Oswy pub site.

“While we keep giving planning permission to build houses. where are the kids going to go to school?

“Last year there were quite a few families refused places in their local schools.”

The council received a petition signed by 367 people calling for a review of the policy to include attendance at nursery when offering families places.

It followed a number of families not being awarded a place for their children at their first, second or even third choice schools last year due to pressure on places in the north of the town.

Parents who signed the petition said children should be given an equal opportunity to attend the school where they have attended its nursery and gained confidence, trust, made new friends and settled into the school.

The council says headteachers and governing bodies were not in favour of the change and also goes against official guidance.

The latest petition Local Schools For Local Children In Hartlepool can be found at www.change.org

A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “We are currently in the process of allocating primary school places for September 2016, but last year 91.2% of children received a place at their first choice.

“The Children’s Services Committee invited headteachers and governing bodies to provide responses on whether attendance at a school nursery should be included within the oversubscription criteria, the process used when a school receives more applications than there are places available.

“The governing bodies of 29 primary schools discussed the petition but the majority expressed a view that they were against the proposal.

“The Children’s Services Committee also considered a report by the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which helps to clarify the legal position on admissions policies in schools, which said the practice of giving priority for admission to the reception year to children who have attended nursery there constrains parents’ preferences for pre-school provision and doesn’t comply with the general requirements of the Admissions Code.”