County council u-turn on Godmanchester school saga

URGENT measures have been put in place after an administrative error led to six families being barred from a Godmanchester primary school when they were told they were eligible.

Last-minute plans to create a second reception class in September at St Anne’s Primary School were unveiled last week to accommodate children of families in Comben Drive and Jarwood Walk, who had been initially rejected from the school.

An error in the admissions guide, produced by Cambridgeshire County Council, had included both streets in the school’s catchment area, when they were actually part of the catchment for neighbouring Godmanchester Primary School.

A further six children, who live outside the catchment area but have siblings at the school, have also been offered places in the new class which will be based in the school’s Round Room.

Applications are currently being received for a new teacher for the class, and money from the Department of Education will be used to buy new resources.

In a letter issued on Wednesday (May 18), headteacher Adrian Shepherd explained that the decision had been made by governors and council officials at an emergency meeting on Friday, May 13.

He reassured parents whose children already attend the school or will attend in September that the development would not affect them.

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Mr Shepherd said: “St Anne’s is fortunate in having nine teaching spaces for seven classes and there is ample space for this class to be accommodated as they travel through their education with us.

“However, all options will be considered very carefully and the impact on the pupils will always be a priority and we remain open to ideas that arise.

“This is not a situation we had envisaged, but feel that we have secured the best scenario given that this situation has developed.”

Households in Comben Drive and Jarwood Walk will be outside the catchment area next year.

County council officials have accepted full responsibility for the mistake, though 13 out of 25 children who applied to the school but were rejected, remain disappointed.

Mother of two Leigh Ward, also of Stokes Drive, is one of the lucky ones who has been offered a place at St Anne’s for her daughter Phoebe after she was initially rejected. Her brother, Harvey, aged six, attends the school.

Mrs Ward said: “We were told because the mistake there are an extra six places that are being offered for children that have got siblings in the school. We are so relieved.”

But another Stokes Drive mother, whose child has been rejected from the school and has been offered a place five miles away at Thongsley Field Primary School, said she was in limbo.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “It is up in the air. It really is horrible at the moment. I can’t get an answer. It is just a waiting game. You just want the best for your children.”

Godmanchester town councillor Nigel Pauley said the county council would be asked where �560,000 of Wigmore Farm developers’ money earmarked for extra classrooms at St Anne’s had gone.

He added: “The town council has written to the county council asking them to explain how this (the administrative error) happened and to reassure us that all Godmanchester children will get a place at one of our two schools.”