Herts County Council reduces admissions of new pupils at Markyate Village School

The 'nearest school' definition was also changed

Hertfordshire County Council's cabinet agreed plans to reduce the number of places available for new pupils at Markyate Village School.

The cabinet agreed that the Published Admission Number for the school, which is in Dacorum, is reduced from 45 to 30 for 2022/23.

A report stated the school governors requested the reduction as lower pupil numbers, just more than 30 in recent years, has resulted in challenging class organisation due to infant class legislation, tight budgets and potential deficits moving forwards.

School stock image

Forecasts over the past three years have either over-estimated the number of places required or have matched the supply.

The report stated that ‘based on recent evidence, it is unlikely that a reduction in Published Admission Numbers would result in children not able to access a local school place.’

A change to Hertfordshire County Council’s “nearest school” definition was also made at the meeting on February 22.

The change in definition will now give those who may not be of a faith a chance to attend their local school.

The amendment will result in 26 schools in the primary sector being added to the authority’s “nearest school” definition for 2022/23.

The county council currently prioritises children who “live nearest to the school” under its Rule Five.

But following discussions with the Diocese of St Albans, it was agreed the rule was amended as follows: “Children for whom it is the nearest school or academy. That includes all schools except those which allocate places on the basis of faith (membership or place) before allocating on the basis of distance/location.”

The county council’s cabinet agreed the change when it met on February 22.

Chairman of education, libraries and localism, councillor Terry Douris, said: “This was brought to us by the Diocese of St Albans because they recognised that if you had a very hard definition that relied on faith, that could actually work against the ability of local children potentially to go to their local school.

“And this is something that the diocese were very keen on promoting, local schools for local people.

“So we are proposing to change the definition of nearest school to allow those children, who may not be of a faith but are very local, to have the opportunity to get to their local school.”

In another change to admission arrangements, cabinet also agreed that a sibling or twin of any child can now have the opportunity to also attend the same school.

Cllr Douris said: “The second element is relating to the allocation of places for twins and multiple births.

"Now currently, this is only applicable if you are the sibling of a child who is the last allocated place.

“That is inherently unfair it is felt. And so what we are proposing here is that the sibling of any child or the multiple birth sibling is included in the ability to join that school.”

Members approved the amendment to admission arrangements that: ‘HCC will admit over the school’s published admission number when a single twin/multiple birth child is allocated a place and the other child(ren) is not.’