Council under fire for hiding school admission figures

SILENT Cllr Roy Perry
SILENT Cllr Roy Perry
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A COUNCIL has been criticised for not releasing full details over school admissions.

Unlike other authorities, Hampshire County Council will not reveal how many pupils placed into each school had put it down as their first, second or third choice.

So while we know all 350 places at Bay House School, in Gosport, were filled, parents do not know if first preference choices were overwhelmingly successful.

The council said it would not disclose the figures as parents could be ‘misled’.

Alan Carter, from the Campaign for State Education, said it was a ‘snub to parents’.

He said: ‘The council’s actions are completely unacceptable.

‘It is absurd they are not offering information willingly that would only serve to increase parents’ understanding of the system. They are also not helping themselves by casting suspicion on the process – if they have nothing to hide, why are they not telling the full story?

‘Assuming it has all been conducted in accordance with proper admissions procedure, they should be happy to publish the information.’

Mr Carter said concealing information went against the government’s push for more transparency and parental choice.

Portsmouth City Council last week gave out its full figures regarding school admissions.

Sam Murray, head of policy and information at national charity Advisory Centre for Education, insisted Hampshire parents had a right to know. Mrs Murray added: ‘What does Hampshire have to hide?

‘The suggestion that the information could mislead parents is a little insulting. If there is information that might be useful or interesting then parents have a right to know.’

The only figure Hampshire County Council is prepared to release is how many first, second, and third choices each school received. But it has chosen not to publish the breakdown of the number of pupils accepted from each category.

The News tried several times to contact county education boss Cllr Roy Perry, but had no response. Instead, a council spokeswoman defended its actions in not releasing the information.

She said it was ‘not our policy to publish the breakdown of the allocations in terms of preferences.

‘We don’t want parents to be misled into thinking the preference makes a difference in the allocation process,’ she said.

The council argues that while parents’ preferences were taken into consideration, it judged every application according to the same admissions criteria.

So, for example, a parent who put down a school as their first choice but lived outside the catchment area, could potentially lose out to another family who had it down as their second choice but lived nearer.

She added: ‘(The statistics) do not add extra information about the admissions experience for families applying for a particular school.’