Furious parents to protest after 200 pupils left without secondary school places in Hertfordshire

Hundreds of parents are expected to protest in St Albans City Centre tomorrow morning (Saturday), after almost 200 children were denied a secondary school place in Hertfordshire.

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) has been unable to offer a place to 189 children and more than 1,000 others have been given a place, but not at any of their four selected options.

Josie Madoc and her daughter Seren from St Albans, who did not get a place at any of her chosen secondary schools

Josie Madoc and her daughter Seren from St Albans, who did not get a place at any of her chosen secondary schools

Parent Josie Madoc, who is organising the protest, was told by the council that it could not offer her 10-year-old daughter a place anywhere in Hertfordshire.

"It was school allocation day and I got an email informing that not only had my daughter Seren not got one of the four preferences that we put down, but she also hadn't been allocated any alternative whatsoever," she said.

"Obviously this was very upsetting and confusing for us, and you wonder how this is possible.

"I investigated it a bit more and it turned out that they were 189 children in Hertfordshire who hadn't been given a place at all."

After speaking to other Hertfordshire parents affected by the issue Josie decided the only option was to organise a protest against the council.

"We decided that it was simply not good enough, it was a chronic lack of planning on behalf of HCC, who the fault lies entirely with.

"And they keep adding more and more housing developments in towns across Hertfordshire with no provision for more schooling."

Council bosses said a "bulge year" for births between September 2007 and August 2008 means it had 460 more applications this year than last year.

It is the first year since statistics have been published that the council has failed to allocate all children with any school at this first stage.

Josie added: "It was a bulge year anyways and they knew it was this year and didn't plan anything in advance.

"I basically decided that this needed to be a protest, this is so important to my daughter and all the other children.

"Its taking place tomorrow and it open to everyone who wants to come, not just St Albans parents.

"Our two objectives are to highlight the fact that this is happening and the craziness of the situation.

"The Second is to try and get them to overturn the way that the waiting lists are prioritised."

Terry Douris, Conservative cabinet member for education asked parents to "stay calm" and said everyone will get a school place.

He said: "The first run of the continuing interest list will sort out all of the anomalies and we are very confident we will be able to provide, particularly in the Harpenden and St Albans area, a secondary school which is as local as possible to them."

Protesters are meeting outside Alban Arena at 10am tomorrow (Saturday).

For more details about the protest visit Josie's 'Secondary Schooling Crisis In Herts' Facebook page: www.facebook.com/events/570685330078458/

If you or your child are affected by this issue please email: harry.cheesewright@jpimedia.co.uk