New admissions policy won’t stop Marlborough children getting into St John’s says Excalibur
Worried parents are being assured that students in out-lying villages will not be given priority over Marlborough children when applying for a place at St John’s School.
Excalibur Academies Trust, which runs St John’s Academy along with Burbage, Easton Royal, Oare and Ogbourne primary schools was forced to issue the reassurance after its admissions policy was debated by Marlborough Town Council last night (Monday).
The Excalibur Academies Trust draft admissions policy, which is currently out to public consultation, seems to give preference to children at its own primary schools.
The draft policy states: “Whilst we would like to accept every student who applies, this is not possible if we are to preserve the high educational standards and opportunities that are our hallmark.”
It then goes on to list its priorities in case of oversubscription. After ‘Looked After Children’ (those is care) and Vulnerable Children (including those with Special Educational Needs), priority is given to:
- Children in the St John’s catchment area and attending a Linked Excalibur Academy
- Children outside the St John’s catchment area and attending a Linked Excalibur Academy
- Children in the St John’s catchment area with siblings at the school
- Children in the St John’s catchment area and on the roll of one of the Academy’s feeder schools
- Other in-area applications
Neither St Peter’s primary school nor Preshute primary school are Linked Excalibur Academies, so the policy would seem to suggest that priority would be given to children from Easton Royal and Oare – both in the Pewsey Vale School catchment area – along with Burbage and Ogbourne.
At Monday night’s Town Council meeting, mayor Margaret Rose said: “We have been invited to consider the document and respond. We would like to feel that Marlborough children would always be considered first.”
Councillor Justin Cook said: “Schools like Pewsey Vale have done such great stuff, but their kids are being taken by St John’s. Pewsey Vale School don’t get the funding because the kids are being syphoned off.”
And councillor Guy Loosmore, meanwhile, expressed concern that Excalibur’s admissions policy would fail to keep pace with Marlborough’s growing population.
Meanwhile, councillor Stewart Dobson said the school’s Sixth Form – whose admission policy is not covered by the document – was “terribly selective”.
“Parents approach me to say their children have been through St Mary’s, St Peter’s, and St John’s, yet they cannot get a place at the Sixth Form, while young people are coming to the Sixth Form from Swindon, Hungerford, and Devizes.
“We want a secondary school we can be proud of, but children who have gone through Marlborough schools have to go elsewhere to complete their education.”
Councillors unanimously voted to write to Excalibur raising its concerns.
But seeking to allay parents’ fears, Dr Patrick Hazlewood – the former principal of St John’s and now CEO of Excalibur Academies Trust – told Marlborough News Online: “It is important to emphasise that children living in the town and attending St Peter’s and Preshute primary schools will not be disadvantaged, given their proximity to St John’s.”
He said that in previous years, St John’s had been oversubscribed, but: “… all children living within the catchment have gained a place in Year 7, and we anticipate this will continue.”
“The 2017-18 policy has some amendments to the current policy, that are currently out for consultation. This is a genuine consultation process and the admissions committee will be meeting to discuss all responses in the first two weeks of February,” he added.
St John’s Academy currently teaches 1,675 children from Year 7 to 13 (A Levels). St John’s has increased its planned Year 7 admission number from 252 to 263.
The consultation document can be viewed and downloaded at http://excalibur.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/EAT-Admissions-Policy-2017-18-For-Consultation.pdf