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Majority of students will get a place at their preferred high school, Suffolk County Council announce

PUBLISHED: 19:30 04 March 2018 | UPDATED: 08:14 05 March 2018

Campaigners against plans to change home-to-school transport policy: Picture: GREGG BROWN

Campaigners against plans to change home-to-school transport policy: Picture: GREGG BROWN

More than 97% of students in Suffolk will get a place at one of their preferred secondary schools, the county council has confirmed.

As places for 2018/2019 were released on “National Offer Day”, the authority said it had received 7,447 applications – the highest ever number, and up 276 on last year. Overall, 91.61% of applicants received offers for their first preference and 97.23% had an offer for one of their top three preferred schools.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s member for education, said: “It is extremely positive to see that we have been able to offer a preferred school to the majority of applicants this year.

“Starting secondary school is an important moment for any child, so the more we can do to make the transition right for the student, the better.”

However, the news was labelled “frustrating” by campaigners who say the council’s proposal to cut home-to-school transport means this choice could be removed. A consultation on the proposal to provide free transport only to a child’s nearest school rather than any in their catchment area closed on Wednesday with 3,500 responses.

Among those whose child was celebrating their school offer was Fiona Macauley, who has been campaigning against the transport changes.

She said: “My son was accepted to Thurston today – I just hope there’s a bus to get him there.

“If Gordon [Jones] understands the importance of good transition to secondary school, he should understand the need to retain free transport to their [a student’s] catchment school.”

Jack Abbott, Labour’s spokesman for education, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many pupils receiving a place at their first choice school, which is why it is really frustrating the council are pushing for a change in the home-to-school transport policy, undoing this good work.

“Thousands of families could lose the ability to choose the right school for their child.”

Another parent campaigner, Rachel Gooch added: “These applications were made when parents were facing lots of uncertainty, and they still are.

“We aren’t asking for the council to fund a bus to some sort of extravagant choice of school.

“We just want children to get a bus to their catchment school.”

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