Fury as pupils fail to get into first choice school
by Julie Morgan
Furious parents in rural Copeland have been left devastated after more than half of their children failed to secure their first choice secondary school.
Jen Norman with daughter Edie, 11 and niece Annie Fawcett, seven, left
An increase in admissions at Egremont’s West Lakes Academy has seen many rural pupils only awarded their second choice of Millom School which is more than 20 miles away.
Parents said this is the first time so few rural children have received their first choice school, with some blaming the failings at the crisis-hit Whitehaven Academy for this year’s battle for places.
At Seascale School, 21 pupils applied to Westlakes with only five accepted; Gosforth School, 12 pupils applied, with five accepted; while Eskdale School had two pupils accepted from the five pupils who applied.
Parents are now planning to discuss the matter this week with Copeland’s new MP, Trudy Harrison.
Jen Norman’s daughter currently attends Seascale School and was not awarded her first choice at Westlakes Academy.
She said: “I feel highly disappointed that my daughter has not been accepted into her only catchment area school. We have recently moved back into the area, from Whitehaven, to ensure our daughter would receive a place at the academy.
“I understand West Lakes Academy is a very popular choice for many due to its current high achieving status and the on-going problems at Whitehaven Academy.
“However, it was never highlighted to us that if oversubscribed our children would not be allocated a place at West Lakes Academy due to our geographical distance.
“I want my daughter to be able to go to her local secondary school, not because it is an outstanding swish new academy but because it is the only accessible school within catchment.”
A spokesman for West Lakes Academy said the school had had “an unprecedented” demand for September 2017’s year seven intake.
Of the 438 total applications, 247 made West Lakes Academy their first preference which exceeded the school’s revised published PAN (published admission number) of 210.
“The admission policy is constructed to preserve all students’ experience. The admissions process is always a deeply distressing time for students, parents and the academy and we are equally disappointed that we cannot offer places to all those who applied,” the spokesman said.
“There are always limited places whether that is 180 or 210 – there has to be a limit. We haven’t changed. What has changed is the number of people in catchment wanting to come here.”