School for Scandal

Only 62 per cent of children get first choice of secondary school in H&F

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Hammersmith and Fulham Council has pledged to increase capacity at popular secondary schools in order to give more local children their first choice of where to study.

Just 62 per cent of children in the borough recieved offers at their first preference school for September.

Fifteen per cent were given a second choice offer, six per cent recieved third preference offers, four per cent a fourth preference offer, and 2 per cent a fifth preference place. One per cent of children were offered their sixth preference.

Around 10 per cent of children in the borough were not given an offer by any of their six preferred schools.

The council was unable to give a breakdown of the number of children applying for individual schools, but traditionally, voluntary-aided schools in Hammersmith and Fulham such as the Oratory, Lady Margaret in Fulham and Sacred Heart in Hammersmith are heavily over-subscribed.

In 2008, Lady Margaret School was the most heavily over-subscribed Church of England school in the Diocese of London. On the website Schoolsnet, it is claimed that the school has seven applications for every place.

Sacred Heart has been described as 'outstanding' by Ofsted and counts Tony Blair's daughter among its alumni.

Hammersmith and Fulham fared slightly worse than the London borough average, in which 66 per cent of children were offered places at their first choice of school.

A council spokesperson said: "Obviously the figure for children getting their preferences isn't as high as we would like and that is why we are proposing radical changes to schools in our borough, expanding the most popular schools and creating sixth forms in schools. We are investing £175million in the coming years on schools in Hammesrmith and Fulham."

Councillor Antony Lillis, cabinet member for community and children's services, said: “Our proposals for expanding the most popular secondary schools and setting up sixth forms are all about extending choice for parents so that more pupils can go to their first choice schools.

"We have some of the most popular schools in the country but that means they are difficult to get into. We are planning to put over £175 million in building on our schools and we want to build on our schools' strengths and get more parents to choose local education.”

The new Hammersmith Academy, which will be located in Melina Road W12 , is due to open in 2011. By 2016 it will cater for 780 students aged between 11-18 years, and will include a Sixth Form of 180 students.

9 March 2009