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The FIGHT GOES on for FAIR Catchment Areas!

December 3, 2017 12:36 PM
In Leigh & West Leigh Focus Oct/Nov 2017

The Fight Goes on For Fair Catchment Areas!

Leigh & West Leigh Focus September 2017

CALL: September's Focus

  • Council backtrack after protests

  • New proposals still not good enough

  • Academy Trust making waves

  • New school still needed in Leigh

SOUTHEND COUNCIL's first thoughts on changing the catchment areas for North Street, West Leigh and chalkwell schools were met with a storm of protest from unhappy residents.

North Street School, Leigh

North Street School

West Leigh School, Leigh

West Leigh School

So the Council has scaled back its proposals and is putting a revised scheme up for consultation.

But Leigh's Lib Dem Councillors are still unhappy with the proposals.

For North Street and Chalkwell, although the number of roads being moved from these two schools to Darlinghurst catchment has been reduced, there are still several between Pall Mall, Leigh Road and London Road which will be affected. Council officers had wanted to help by making these streets priority for North Street and Chalkwell if those schools were undersubscribed, which they often are, i.e these children would be given priority ahead of all other children outside the catchment area.

BUT the Academy Trust, the consortium which runs Darlinghurst School, has vetoed that idea as they want first call on these children, whatever parents say, in order to help fill their school.

Cllr Carole Mulroney spoke out strongly against this at the Council and, as a result, the Portfolio Holder agreed that if there is an overwhelming objection to the Trust's position in the next period of consultation he would be prepared to reopen

discussions with them. For west Leigh many parents are clear that the Council's figures are flawed and the threat of future over-subscription is exaggerated. Carole obtained a commitment from the Portfolio Holder that Council officers will look again at these figures as well as the statistical analysis submitted by unhappy residents in respect of all the schools.

The issue of 'gaming' and fraudulent applications at west Leigh was raised by parents.

It is much talked-about locally and there is statistical evidence suggesting that not all parents trying to get their kids into the school really live in the area. Although the Portfolio Holder did not think this was a big problem he did undertake to investigate a better system to detect fraud. Carole asked that if cases ARE revealed they should be publicised as a deterrent.

This could go a long way to combatting oversubscription.

She also made a strong case for a new school. If there really is an oversubscription problem, filling up Darlinghurst will leave NO capacity in Leigh - this must be planned-for NOW. There will now be the formal consultation. In the meantime Carole will be meeting the Portfolio Holder and Council officers for further discussion.

What happens next?

The council's public consultation will be held between 6th November and 15th December.

The council will be writing to people it believes are most affected by the proposals. In addition, the consultation documents and the chance to give your views will be on Southend council's website, www.southend.gov.uk and there will be a public meeting sometime in November when parents can question the Portfolio Holder and officers.

In the light of the consultation, the Council must finalise its plans by 28 february 2018 but if residents are still unhappy they can object to a government body, the 'Office of the Schools Adjudicator', between 15 March and 15 May 2018.

This story was originally published in our Leigh & West Leigh Focus Oct/Nov 2017

Leigh & West Leigh Focus Oct/Nov 2017