Parents may start own school

A GROUP of parents who are keeping their children out of the classroom following a row with education officials have said they may set up their own school.

A GROUP of parents who are keeping their children out of the classroom following a row with education officials have said they may set up their own school.

The EADT revealed earlier this year how six 11-year-olds from St Osyth, near Clacton, had turned down the offer of places at nearby Bishops Park College.

Their parents had been refused places at all of their preferred schools and were told their children would have to go to the struggling comprehensive.

Their preferred schools - Clacton County High, the Colne Community School and Tendring Technology College - are all foundation schools and determine their own admissions procedures.


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Yesterday the parents met with Essex County Council leader Lord Hanningfield at the House of Lords to demand their children be given places at the schools of their choice.

Holly O'Toole, mother of Harry Hulstrom, and the other parents have continued to teach their children at home, but have paid private tutors since the start of the school year.

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Speaking afterwards Mrs O'Toole said: “Ultimately we want to get the school places of our choice and if not, we want to secure funds to set up our own school.

“He told us that schools' admission policy was down to the individual schools, but we have been told the opposite - that it is down to the council.”

She added: “I thought it went very well, but only time will tell and if nothing changes, we will fight on. There are a lot of people out there who are supporting what we are doing.

“We don't feel we are being that difficult - we just want our children to go to school, but they are saying that we have to go to a school that don't want to.”

She said Lord Hanningfield pledged to look into the issues of both access to the schools and the option of funding the parents' attempts to set something up themselves.

Bishops Park, in Clacton, remains under special measures due to its recent record but headteacher Nick Pavitt, who has previously turned around the fortunes of nearby Colbayns High School, has said he is confident of improvements.

A council spokesman said: “The three schools which the parents applied to - Tendring Technology College, The Colne Community School and Clacton County High - are all foundation schools and as such are responsible for setting their own admission arrangements. Unfortunately, on this occasion, demand for places at the schools exceeded supply.

“In situations like this it is the responsibility of the education authority to provide a place at the nearest available community school, which in this case was Bishop's Park College.

“The council's admissions team works hard to provide children with places at their preferred schools. This year we offered 95% of applicants a place at either their first or second preference of comprehensive school; this is above the national and regional average.”

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