‘Parents are scrabbling for options’ - Concerns over lack of secondary school places in suburb

PUBLISHED: 14:46 14 June 2020 | UPDATED: 19:11 14 June 2020

Martin Betts. Picture: Creative Sponge

Martin Betts. Picture: Creative Sponge

Creative Sponge

A parent is concerned children in rural areas will not be able get a place in a suburban high school due to overdevelopment of the area.

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Martin Betts, 44, who lives in Easton and sits on Easton Parish Council, is worried that children from the village and surrounding parishes cannot go up to Ormiston Victory Academy (OVA), on Middleton Crescent, Costessey, despite living nearby.

He was inspired to look into the issue and join the parish council this year after his 10-year-old son, who attends St Peter’s CofE Primary Academy, was not given a place at OVA which was his first choice for September.

Mr Betts believes his son was one of around six pupils from the same year group at St Peter’s, which is a feeder primary to OVA, to not get a space at the academy.

MORE: “Costessey is saturated with houses” - call to halt unplanned housing developments in Costessey

Ormiston Victory Academy at Costessey. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOrmiston Victory Academy at Costessey. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He said: “Because of the increased infrastructure on Queen’s Hill and Hampden View off Dereham Road you have got a rising population. A lot more families are living there. The children in Easton are being pushed around and out of the catchment area. Parents are scrabbling for options.

“We are left with the possibility that people will sell their houses to move to other areas for different schools.”

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Mr Betts, who also has a six-year-old son, appealed against the decision and his 10-year-old was granted a place at Norwich’s City Academy but the family is choosing between Northgate High School in Dereham and Wymondham High Academy.

Queen's Hill development in Costessey. Picture: Nick ButcherQueen's Hill development in Costessey. Picture: Nick Butcher

He added the problem for future places would get worse after over 800 homes are planned for the edge of Easton.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council said: “We continue to work very closely with admission authorities like OVA to achieve the best possible outcome for the local area. We are also investing millions of pounds in building new schools and extending existing ones in order to provide more local school places for children living in growing communities across the county, and this includes a project at OVA. This year, more than 92pc of families have received their first preference secondary school place, with 97pc receiving one of their three preferences.”

A spokesperson for the school said: “We are proud that we are a popular school and a top choice for so many parents - it’s humbling that so many families would like to send their children to us.

“But it is also really sad that we have only so many places available, which means not everyone who would like to come to OVA can.

“We continue to work constructively with the local council which is in the admissions process, so that we can try to offer more places and take more children in future years.

“Unfortunately this does not help families who have missed out in the current process but we recognise the issues faced by those in the traditional catchment area, especially Easton.

“We are in advanced discussions regarding building expansion ready for increased numbers from 2022 which will directly help the children of Easton.”

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