More parents appeal over primary places

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THE number of parents appealing against primary school place allocations has risen in Sunderland and County Durham.

Latest figures from the Department of Education reveal the number of mums and dads who lodged appeals with Sunderland City Council against the primary place their child was offered rose from 111 in 2008/2009 to 194 for 2009/2010.

The number of appeal hearings which were held for primary places rose from 96 to 160 and the number of parents who won their appeal also rose from 24 per cent to 35 per cent.

In Sunderland, however, the number of parents lodging appeals against secondary allocations fell from 215 to 153, the number of panel hearings dropped from 172 to 131 and the number won by parents rose from 61 per cent to 65.6 per cent.

Beverley Scanlon, head of commissioning and change management for Children’s Services in Sunderland, said: “The vast majority of parents and carers in Sunderland get the primary and secondary school place of their choice.

“Parents and carers have a legal right to appeal to an independent panel which considers their individual reasons and makes a decision on whether to uphold the appeal or not.”

For the same period in County Durham, the number of parents who lodged appeals against primary place allocations rose from 344 to 562, the number which went to appeal panel rose from 276 to 388, but the number of parents who won their appeal fell from 72.1 per cent to 67.8 per cent.

Durham’s appeals for secondary places also rose with 308 parents lodging an appeal for 2009/10 compared to 285 the previous year. The number of panels which were held rose from 213 to 216 and the number of secondary parents who won their appeal rose from 65.7 per cent to 75 per cent.

In Sunderland the intake of primary pupils rose from 3,856 in 2008/09 to 3,945 for 2009/10, but the number of children joining secondary school fell from 3,457 to 3,086.

In County Durham the number of pupils taking up a primary place fell from 7,879 to 7,319 and the number of secondary pupils also fell from 6,653 to 6,390.

Maureen Clare, head of county wide services for children and young people at Durham County Council, said: “We have a good success rate for meeting parents’ preferences for school places.

“This year 92 per cent of parents got their first choice of primary and secondary school.”

The battle for primary places follows the national trend with the latest statistics published by the Department of Education showing 42,070 parents lodged appeals last year, a massive rise of 10.5 per cent on the previous year.

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