Wokingham secondary school places row: parents warned of shortages years ago

The Piggott School

Parents warned years ago that there would be a shortage of places at The Piggott School, Wargrave.

Last week there was fury when many children failed to get secondary places there.

Of nearly 120 children on the rolls of Polehampton Juniors and The Colleton School, 25 children living in Wokingham borough were turned down for The Piggott School, a Wokingham Borough Council spokesperson said last week.

Most of them were offered Waingels College, the next nearest school instead, he added.

Colleton School parents told Wokingham.Today they felt their children had been particularly hard hit.

The council spokesperson said Polehampton was closer to the Piggott site than the Colleton. This meant Polehampton pupils also tended to live closer to the Piggott site.

This explained why a higher proportion of Polehampton pupils were offered places compared with Colleton pupils.

Mother of two former Colleton pupils, Louise Yeadon of Twyford, warned parents in 2016 that there would be shortage of places by 2020.

Last week she said: “The Colleton had their extension built (increasing pupil numbers). We asked what was going to happen when those children became secondary age.

“In 2014 there were plans for 20 new houses (off Hurst Road) which would exacerbate the situation. A lot of people complained” The houses were built despite objections.

Her oldest daughter had attended the Piggott and her second daughter was there now thanks to having a sibling there.

Twyford parents who didn’t get a place at Piggott for their children this year have complained that pupils at Charvil Primary, who lived further away than they did, had been accepted.

The council spokesperson said that Charvil Primary was the same school as Piggott senior. The primary school pupils weren’t being admitted to the Piggott seniors. They were already on the school roll.

Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services at Wokingham Borough Cuncil, said: “We have worked with, and invested in, schools so that the over-whelming majority of children are allocated a high preference school.

“This year more than 85% of 2,300 applicants were offered a place at one of their two top preferences.

“Most children from the two Twyford primary schools were offered a place at Piggott. Of those who were not, most were offered places at Waingels College, the next nearest school.

“There were a considerable number of designated area children with siblings requesting places, which also had an impact on the allocation.

“Any student having to travel more than three miles on a safe walking route to the closest suitable school will have transport through a ticket for a scheduled service, a dedicated coach or some other means.

“I understand that this is a very stressful time for many parents, particularly if they cannot secure a place at their top preference school.

“Parents have rights of appeal.  Normally we expect, that there will be a level of change as many children across the borough will be allocated to higher preference schools, later in the year, as families move out of the area or decide to educate their children in independent schools. 

“While this cannot be guaranteed, it is our experience from previous years that this does have some impact in meeting preferences that were not achieved on national offer day.”

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