PARENTS WAIT FOR SCHOOL PLACES

PARENTS whose children were turned away from Bishop Bell School face an agonising wait this weekend to find out if their appeals have been successful.

Some 46 families have appealed against the school's refusal to offer their child a place in September this year and those hearings have been heard over the last two weeks by the Independent Admissions Appeal.

The parents have been told the results of their appeal will arrive in the post next week.

There was uproar in March when it was revealed the popular school in Priory Road had been oversubscribed by 94 applications.

Only 208 out of the 302 pupils who selected the school as their first preference were offered places.

The massive over-subscription was down to two factors. Firstly the Haven School, a church school at the Harbour, has been open for five years but this is the first year it has a class moving up to secondary school.

Secondly Tollgate, once a community school, now has church school status and its pupils can also apply for priority foundation places.

It was hoped some of those children refused places could have been admitted and an extra class established, but conflicting advice and legal technicalities prevented that and the parents were told they would have to take their cases before the appeals panel.

Among those appealing are parents of pupils at The Haven, St John's school in Meads, Pevensey and Westham and Tollgate.

The three-member panel is totally independent from the school and its governors and can override decisions to refuse the pupils a place there.

Eastbourne MP Nigel Waterson addressed the panel on behalf of concerned parents on Thursday last week and told the Herald he hoped the waiting for the families would end soon.

He said, "It has been an emotional rollercoaster for all the families involved and hopefully there will be a swift solution so people can get on with their lives."

annemarie.field@trbeckett.co.uk