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'Councillor did U-turn,' say Bookham parents

March 6, 2008: One in six local children applying for a place at the Howard of Effingham School this September will be disappointed.

That's the conclusion of a survey by the Don’t Drive Our Children Away (DDOCA) campaign – set up to give them a greater chance of admission to the Howard of Effingham School – as Bookham's children finally learned from Surrey County Council which schools they will attend in September.

Six of the 37 sets of parents who have returned replies to the DDOCA's questionaire say their children have failed to win Howard places, says Sean Whetstone, DDOCA campaign spokesman. He expects further replies from the remainder of the 240 sets of parents affected by the issue.

Whetstone adds that he knows of three children who have won admission to the Howard from locations that would, under earlier admission rules, have been outside the normal catchment area: two from Oxshott and one from Cobham. Whetstone says there are likely to be many more cases like that which he is unaware of.

One of the six children refused admission had recently moved into Bookham. The other five are from the Kennel Lane area, close to the Bookham-Fetcham border, says Whetstone.

The Bugle will issue more information as further survey results come in.

The DDOCA campaign has issued two new statements this week, below. The campaign also has a new website. Full details also below.

This morning's Leatherhead Advertiser carries a long story on the Howard admissions issue. The paper reports that parents have been angered by a decision taken at a meeting of Surrey County Council's executive 10 days ago. Parents were particularly angered, the paper reports, by the decision of Cllr Andrew Crisp, the SCC's executive member for schools, to support the 'next alternative school' as a tie-breaker in admissions to oversubscribed schools. The Bookham parents favour 'closest school' as a decider and say, according to the Leatherhead Advertiser, that Cllr Crisp had also supported this approach.

The DDOCA's reaction to the decision is the subject of the first statement (below).

More information on the Howard story as it becomes available.

The first of the DDOCA's two bulletins is dated March 4:
Update on full Surrey County Council meeting on 4th March and 2008 Admissions Update

'Today at County Hall the full Surrey County Council voted on School Admissions for 2009 for the whole of Surrey.

'DDOCA lobbied each the Council's 75 members by letter in advance of today's meeting explaining the reasons for our continued opposition to the use of Next Alternative School (NAS) as a tie breaker.

'Bookham County Councillor Jim Smith tabled an amendment which was seconded by Tim Hall, Fetcham's County Councillor, to remove NAS as a tie breaker for the Howard of Effingham and return to the standard Surrey tie-break.

'We estimate 12 councillors voted for this amendment while another 10 abstained.

'While the 2009 admissions policy was still passed by those following political etiquette, we believe it highlighted yet again some still feel uncomfortable with the proposed tie-break for 2009 admissions at The Howard.

'We have started to receive feedback today from parents of offer letters arriving for the school places.

'Early results to our questionnaire show the majority of those answering being offered a place at the Howard but some have been disadvantaged.

'We hope your children were all successful in their applications but whatever the result would welcome your feedback in the questionnaire [click here].

'We still strongly believe that Surrey Standard Criteria would have delivered the same results and have challenged SCC to run 2008 admissions against Surrey's Standard Criteria.'


The second notice is dated March 3:
Parents of year six children

'By Monday or Tuesday this week, you should have received your secondary school offer letter. In order to help us assess if there are any areas which have not been offered places at the Howard and to assist those who may need to go to appeal, we would be most grateful if you would complete the following questionnaire.

'We have asked for your address and postcode purely so we can produce an overall map of areas which have been successful and those which have been unsuccessful at attaining a place at the Howard.

'We will not be using any of the information you provide in isolation; all information you provide will be amalgamated with data from across the whole area.

'The short questionnaire can be taken online [here]. Click on the questionnaire link on the main page of our website .

'If you are not aparent of a year six child but know year-six parentswho might not be on this email list pleaseforward this questionnaire email onto them.'

New Website Launched Today

Don’t Drive Our Children Away (DDOCA), the campaign set up by Bookham parents to ease local children's admission to the Howard of Effingham School has launched a new website. The address is http://www.dontdriveourchildrenaway.co.uk.

The DDOCA welcomes comments or questions at this email address.

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