DEC
16

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Current selection process still marred by unfairness, say Bookham parents

December 8, 2008: Over 200 attended the meeting organised by The Howard and Surrey County Council (SCC) to allow local communities to discuss the issues surrounding admissions to The Howard and give them the information they need to respond to the public consultation. The Bugle here publishes (with some additional information) DDOCA's account of the 2nd December meeting at the Howard of Effingham on local admissions to the school. The original DDOCA page is here.

The meeting was chaired by one of the SCC Officers with presentations by:-

Peter-John Wilkinson, an officer of Surrey county Council (SCC), who gave the background to how SCC developed the proposed 2010 admission criteria for the Howard. The criteria remain the same as for 2009.

The Bookham group Don't Drive Our Children Away (DDOCA) and then the Horsley campaign Kepp Horsley in the Howard (KhiTH) presented their views on the policy and its impact. Click here to see DDOCA's presentation.

[Click here to see KhiTH's view.]

Southern Counties Radio was present and interviewed a number of those attending. The issue of the Howard was the main subject of the breakfast phone in.

Many questions were asked by the audience. SCC noted all points raised and will use them as part of the evidence for the consultation that closes on the 9 January 2009.

The majority of questions were fielded by Mr Wilkinson.

Questions showed that there remained a lot of confusion about Next Alternative School (NAS), one of DDOCA's objections to the criterion. Click here for DDOCA's explanation of NAS as it relates to the east of the Howard.

Statement by DDOCA Committee

We would like to thank the SCC Officers and express our appreciation for the professional and fair way in which the meeting was conducted but particularly for the very professional manner in which Mr Wilkinson dealt with the questions/ issues (even those he could / would not answer !!).

DDOCA look forward to working with the officers in the future and urge that the foundations of this meeting are built upon by all parties by being open and transparent. Most importantly, that ALL the possible scenarios (Surrey Standard, NAS etc) for 2009 are modelled and that the results are shared with all interested parties.

Summary and the future

The Effingham Learning Partnership (ELP), DDOCA and KHiTH appear to agree that all our communities who are in the catchment should have fair and equal access to the Howard.

Our concern is that this is not the case and that some communities (Horsley, Ockham & Downside) are favoured at the expense of others (Effingham, Bookham and West Fetcham) living closer to the school.

The Howard is apparently the only secondary school in Surrey that regularly cannot accommodate children for which it is the nearest school and it is an indictment of the planners in the County. The school needs more capacity but it seems unlikely that the school will be extended and if it does unfortunately it would be many years before it happened.

The DDOCA Committee takes no pleasure in disagreeing with SCC but the lack of modelling and transparency, past experience, the ELP’s potential stance on NAS/ Feeder schools and feed back from the communities that the criterion does not provide equal treatment and fairness, leaves us no alternative but to continue to oppose the criteria.

Please respond to the on-line consultation by 9 January, 2009. DDOCA disagree with the proposed criteria (for reasons given below) but it is essential that everyone give their views. The online consultation limits you to 500 characters, but you can also send a fuller note to anne.macavoy@surreycc.gov.uk

DDOCA also appeals for help distributing leaflets at the Bookham Christmas night, this Thursday, December 11, 2008 and/or posting them to the wider community.

Other Help needed - Please e-mail us to volunteer, saying what you can do and which school your child is attending. We would particularly like some new committee members – who feel strongly about this issue as well as those with media and copy expertise would be very welcome.

Summary

We would like to thank the Howard, the ELP and particularly the officers of SCC for facilitating this event. Click link below for details of the Meeting.

http://servisis.co.uk/mything/modules/news/article.php?storyid=29

Summary of DDOCA's position
DDOCA continue to disagree with the proposed Nearest Alternative School (NAS) tie-break because:-

[] It gives those in the west of the catchment (West Horsley) special treatment at the expense of those to the east of the Howard (Bookham/Fetcham borders) who live much closer to the school. The communities advantaged do have access to more alternative schools where there are available spaces

[] It is very difficult for parents to understand (Click here for explanation on website).

[] It has unforeseen knock-on effects on other schools and communities.

[] It prejudices children who would walk/cycle to school in favour of children already travelling greater distances by bus/car.

[] Many benefits of cycling/walking to school – health, concentration, community, green, free etc.

We believe that the Surrey standard criterion, of distance from the school, should be reinstated as a fairer tie-break.

However if NAS remains the tie-break, it is essential that attendance at one of the feeder schools is retained as this shares the available spaces slightly more fairly across the catchment. Apparently the ELP is "considering" a recommendation that NAS is retained but feeder schools are removed.

This would be a disaster for Bookham and Fetcham. Please see an SCC map shown here which shows how children east of a line from Bookham Station to the Crabtree lights would not obtain places. This map is used by Keep Horsley in the Howard to support their case to have NAS without feeder schools as the tie break for admissions to the Howard in 2008. The data is based on 2006 and modelled for 2007.

DDOCA is in favour of expanding the Howard so that it can accommodate all the children for whom it is the nearest school.

For further up-to-date information see the DDOCA website.

Thank you for your support

DDOCA Committee

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