Catchment changes horrify headteacher

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THE HEADTEACHER of an ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted reviewed school says he is ‘horrified’ that its ‘community is going to be broken up’ by proposed changes to the catchment area.

Plans have been outlined to extend the catchment boundary of Heron Way Primary School in Horsham - meaning 20 more families will have first priority for places at the popular school.

However, this threatens to prevent some existing pupils having their siblings attend the same school as them, whilst some parents could find themselves living outside of their favourite school’s catchment.

Around 100 outraged parents fearing for their children’s education and demanding sibling protection attended a consultation meeting on Tuesday January 31 at Kingslea Primary School, Kings Road, Horsham.

Representatives from West Sussex County Council (WSCC) including Peter Griffiths, cabinet member for Education and Schools, and senior managers for pupil admissions, faced a barrage of questioning.

James Crump, headteacher at Heron Way, said: “We have the most incredible relationship with our parents which has been built upon over years. Our Ofsted was something we achieved last year and I have no doubt of the parents’ impact on the school achieving Outstanding.

“I’m quite horrified that a school community is going to be broken up. School community has a 25 per cent impact on a child’s academic potential.”

Julia Wellbelove, a Heron Way School governor, added: “By moving a line on a piece of paper you have made a massive impact on the lives of families which have been built up over a number of years.’’

Further anger erupted when the cabinet member admitted NHS data used in the past for this sort of proposal had been ‘rubbish’.

“I want to assure all of you that the data was rubbish before and is getting better,” said Mr Griffiths. “We’re putting them under considerable pressure in the NHS to give us better data.”

Following the meeting, mother Claire Minto, 36, of Pollards Drive, said: “From the outset the majority of questions concerned the lack of protection for siblings of children already at Heron Way who may no longer get into the school.

“There were many very concerned parents and some emotional ones close to tears at the thought of splitting their children up and the logistics of taking children to different schools.”

The boundary change will run along the centre of Depot Road to Orchard Road and will include all of Orchard and Bennetts Road, to Brighton Road in the south.

The consultation period is due to end on March 1 and any changes would have an impact on September 2013 admissions.

The full consultation can be seen at www.westsussex.gov.uk/admissions and there is an response form to submit views.

For a printed copy contact 0845 075 1007.

Letters: page 13