Brighton Green Party Member in the School Square Row

A FORMER councilman plans to resign from his political party after his granddaughter was one of nine children who were denied a place in her chosen high school.

Dick Page, who represented Hanover and Elm Grove for the Greens from 2015 to 2019, is furious that his granddaughter was not able to get a place at Varndean Secondary School in September because she wanted to go there with her friends.

Varndean school

Varndean school

It was her only choice on the secondary school admissions form, but instead she was allocated a place at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA).

Her older sister was among the “embarrassed” students in 2017 who initially failed to secure a place in one of their top three secondary schools.

That year three schools – Blatchington Mill in Hove and Dorothy Stringer and Varndean in Brighton – introduced bulge classes at 30 to accommodate the extra numbers and she secured a place at Varndean.

However, with his older granddaughter leaving Varndean this summer, Mr Page’s younger granddaughter will not benefit from a sibling bond.

Mr Page said Brighton and Hove City Council could make room at Dorothy Stringer and Varndean for the nine youngsters who have applied for one of the schools and have not secured a place despite living in the catchment area.

He was outraged when the council announced that this year’s intake at Varndean and Dorothy Stringer would not accept “misplaced” children after the two schools found places for a further 29 students who had applied to both schools and in the catchment area lived.

This was in contrast to last year when 62 youngsters were ‘misplaced’ and neither Dorothy Stringer nor Varndean had room for a ‘bulge’ class.

Mr Page said: “Our girl is just a case. She’s embarrassed. It’s frustrating that the Council doesn’t recognize that some children are out of place.

“I think the Green councilors could have said they could ‘find a way’ to find the odd small number of places by giving Varndean and Stringer a little more funding to help with that. You could make it happen.

“Then they could say they’ve taken care of all the kids this year and it’s the last year they’re expecting a bump.”

Mr Page said his granddaughter had refused to put another school on her application form because she wanted to go to Varndean.

He said the instructions don’t tell parents to use all three of their preferences, and moreover, not everyone reads the instructions.

Mr Page added: “The decision to look after most of the children who have not had a place under normal procedure is not in the rulebook.

“If they can’t do that for the remaining few children and spoil their secondary education, that’s a matter of resignation.

“If you can’t take care of the kids in your own town, then there’s no use talking about human rights, trans rights and global justice.”

The Greens said: “We are sorry to hear that a Greens member is unhappy with the school place offered to his granddaughter and therefore intends to leave the party.

“However, unlike other parties, we believe the rules should apply equally to everyone and not depend on who you know.

“Individual school applications are not decided by council members and if families are dissatisfied with the school place on offer they have a right of appeal.

“We assume that in this case the applicant did not follow the instructions for completing the form. We advise all parents to maximize the chances of their children getting a place in one of their preferred options by listing their top three schools.”

The council said: “Our published guidance makes it absolutely clear that merely listing a school as a preference does not increase the chances of being assigned to that school.

“It says, ‘Use all three settings. You could disadvantage yourself if you do not take your opportunity to express a preference for three schools.”

“All but a tiny minority of parents take this advice and write down three preferences.

“This gives them more control over which school they are assigned to if a place at their first/only school of choice is not available.

“All those who applied within the study place period for September 2022 and selected their catchment area school(s) from their three preferences were offered a place at one of their preferred schools.” Brighton Green Party Member in the School Square Row

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