My daughter did not receive her first choice, catchment school, Tanbridge House (THS) and was allocated Millais instead.
She has been extremely fortunate. The same cannot be said for many other families in Southwater.
A number of Southwater children have not been accommodated in either their catchment school, THS or in any of the Horsham District schools.
West Sussex have allocated children schools in Crawley - Thomas Bennett and Thomas Becket.
Both schools require improvement according to Ofsted.
Children who have not received any of their choices are being asked (in some cases) to travel 90 minutes on public transport (not school buses) to school and then make the same long journey home in the afternoons. These children are only 11 years old and many have younger siblings, so parents are not able to take them to school.
Aside from obvious safeguarding issues, this is clearly going to be detrimental to children’s health and wellbeing. It is illogical that the children at the very far south of the District are having to make the longest journey past all the schools and past North Horsham to get to schools in Crawley. Surely, it would be fairer to redraw the boundary to include the Crawley schools.
It seems under the current oversubscription criteria, that once special needs, ‘looked after’ children and sibling situations are dealt with, the decision as to whether or not a space is allocated is worked out on geography. Southwater is at the far end of the Horsham District and consequently it is not near to any of the secondary schools. Children in Southwater have therefore been disproportionately affected by the increase in population in the District as a result of all the new development.
It is clear that WSCC hopes that the new Bohunt School will relieve the pressure. However, this is being provided to take children from North Horsham and as you will be aware, at least 2,750 new homes are intended for this area. The Bohunt School is opening in September in temporary accommodation and remains to be seen whether it will be able to offer assistance to any of the affected families.
Whilst the Bohunt School should provide some relief, it has not yet been built to my knowledge and it is apparently hoping to open ‘in 2020’. Many parents felt that this school was an unknown and didn’t want their children to be in temporary accommodation. In addition, some people were confused about the application arrangements, which were separate from WSCC.
In any event, if you look at demographics there was a significant increase in birth rates in 2010 - 2012 which will need to be contended with alongside the new development and there is concern amongst the people of Southwater, that our children will be caught in future rounds, simply because of geography, demographics and a lack of rigorous planning.
To my mind, a new secondary school is required in the south of the Horsham District or the catchment areas and boundary lines need to be changed to reflect the changing face of our District.
Either way, it is not satisfactory if WSCC, Horsham District and the Department of Education all point the finger at each other, whilst children in Southwater fall through the cracks.
The people of Southwater are very concerned that their children are being let down. We started a petition on March 3 which at the time of writing, March 4, has already received more than one thousand signatures.
Here is the link to the petition -
Cripplegate Lane, Southwater