Parents Take Issue Over Council Admissions Policy

Official complaint lodged over application of Belmont School criteria

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An official complaint regarding incorrect application of Belmont Primary School admissions criteria has been lodged against Hounslow Council's education department.

A number of parents believe that an error made by the department caused children living to the east of Chiswick Back Common to miss out on a reception place at Belmont.

The complaint centres around the omission of the pathway across Chiswick Back Common from the calculations of distance from homes to the school. These calculations that are used to determine proximity and therefore which children are offered places.

The council's published admissions criteria states
“Where there are more applications from other parents resident in the PAA than there are places in the school, priority will then be given to those children who live nearest to the PAA School, with the distance from home to school being measured as set out in the note below.
Note: Distances will be measured along public highways and designated public footpaths. Common land across which there are no designated footpaths is excluded from consideration.”

The applicants believe the footpath across Chiswick Back Common should have been included in the calculations. One parent said "I have had various correspondence with Hounslow Council departments in regard to the designation of the footpath across Chiswick Back Common. I spoke with the Highways Team (a Senior Traffic Engineer and a Team Leader in Developments and Parking), and was told that because the footpath was on common land it was not looked after the Highways Team - who look after footpaths next to roads."

"The Highways team checked the Highway adoption records and said that: 'On checking the Highway Adoption Records again, the only notes indicated on the sheets that cover the grassed areas state ‘maintained by CIP’, which in the past was the old Parks & Leisure Services Department. As to your second point about the footpaths, “are they possibly ‘a designated footpath across common land’” the only person who may be able to answer that question is Mr Nick Pratt, who is responsible for CIP”

The response from Nick Pratt stated "We do not own the land and therefore we do not have a deed-packet. By default the Council has a responsibility to look after the land 'stewardship role'. As to your particular question [which was “is this a designated footpath”] then the path ways is in effect a right of way and established over many years, this I would suggest give the pathway certain status and in effect could not be done away with even if for whatever The Council wished to. Again the guidance as mentioned is the location of street lamps which support this as an identified route."

The council's planning department also agreed that the footpath meets the criteria of a 'designated footpath' as stated in the admissions policy.

Hounslow Council recently launched a consultation process with Chiswick's primary schools and their priority admissions areas after a number of children were unable to secure a place at a local school.

A council spokesperson said "We are currently consulting all schools about the admissions areas, and Belmont would be taking part in this. The report will probably be going to Executive in December with the usual annual admissions data, setting out dates for future academic year etc."

September 29, 2007