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Anguish over late school place mail for Calne family
11:00am Saturday 15th March 2014 in News
When classmates of Calne girl Katherine Stone were celebrating getting into the senior school of their choice, she could only wait and wonder about her future.
Parents Ian and Claire Stone, of Avon Close, contacted the council when the vital letter failed to arrive.
Mr Stone said: “We expected it to be in the post on Tuesday. In the evening, the power of social media meant she soon knew where all of her friends were going.
“When our letter still did not arrive on Wednesday, Katherine was getting more and more upset. I contacted Wiltshire Council, but got a very unhelpful response.”
Then on Saturday, two letters arrived, both saying the St Edmunds Primary pupil had got her first choice of Hardenhuish, Chippenham.
Mr Stone said: “We were all delighted she had got in, but that isn’t the point. It is ridiculous that it is not possible to get this sort of information instantly via the web or email.”
He also pointed to the cost of sending thousands of letters by post and said: “It is a ridiculous waste of money.”
A council spokesman said plans for an on-line system for finding out school places should be ready next year.
In Wiltshire, the vast majority of pupils got their first choice school. Of the 4,500 children who applied for September places, 95 per cent got their preferred one.
Even at Hardenhuish and Sheldon in Chippenham, where many children had been disappointed in the past, all who applied by the deadline, put the school as their first choice and met the admissions criteria were successful.
A low birth rate 11 years ago meant fewer pupils at secondary age, so there was less of a scrum for places.
Neil Spurdell, head of Sheldon, did not expect any appeals: “It is good that we have not had to disappoint anyone who put us first.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “We’re sorry this family had to wait a few days before having their choice of school confirmed.
“Although the parent did call we’re not able to give out information over the phone for security reasons, but a fresh letter was sent over as soon as possible.
“In the future we are looking to send this information out electronically.”
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