The full to capacity £24m Glossopdale School is so popular there’s no room for all the children hoping to start studying there in September.
Some parents who put the Hadfield School down as first choice in their placement application to Derbyshire County Council were instead offered a place in New Mills.
The result was a surge of resentment and anger from parents who want their children taught at Glossop’s high school.
Families who failed to get a place at Glossopdale School for September are demanding answers. They say the offer of St Philip Howard, Longdendale and New Mills schools are unacceptable.
They called the Chronicle, High Peak MP Ruth George and turned to social media with complaints that DCC built the school too small.
Gareth Wilson was fairly confident of getting son Freddie a place at Glossopdale School. But Gareth and his wife were in for a shock despite putting it as his preferred option.
He said: “He’s been told to go to New Mills; we can’t get him a place in Glossop at all. I’m livid – my own town’s got no room for my son and loads of people are in the same boat.”
Gareth went on: “The 2019 secondary school placements announcements have revealed the new ‘Glossopdale School’ is a school only for Hadfield and those living on its periphery.
“Children living in central and east Glossop have been refused places at Glossopdale School and instead offered places at Longdendale, Philip Howard and even New Mills eight miles away.
“Glossop has effectively been rendered outside the catchment area and is left with no non-denominational school at all.
“No consultation was undertaken at the time of Glossopdale School’s move to make residents aware of these consequences.”
High Peak MP Ruth George has written to Derbyshire County Council asking why so many local students have been refused a place at the new Glossopdale School.
She told the Chronicle: “Lots of parents in Glossop have contacted me, very upset that their child has not been allocated a place at Glossopdale School, in spite of their being in the catchment area.
“Some have been allocated to St Phillip Howard when it was a lower choice of school for them, or not on their list as they do not wish to attend a faith school.
“Others have been assigned to New Mills School, which involves considerable travelling.
“I’m pleased the newly-built school is popular but it can be very unsettling for children facing a long journey to a school they didn’t choose, or being separated from friends.
“Glossopdale School was designed with space for an additional 240 places.
“Given the clear demand for places at the school, I’ve asked the county council to look at expanding the number of places as soon as possible, preferably so that the children refused a place on the basis of current capacity can be accommodated.
“I know how worrying the move to secondary school can be for children.
“Even more so if they’re being sent to a school they didn’t choose or they have the uncertainty of a lengthy appeal.
“That’s why I’ve asked the council to look at this urgently and I hope they’ll act quickly for all the children and families who are affected.”
Replying to the concerns, a Derbyshire County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the issues arising from the number of applications received for places at Glossopdale School and can understand the disappointment of any parent or carer and their child who has not been allocated a place at this school.
“Our aim is to ensure that every child in Derbyshire has a place in a local school, but unfortunately not every request for a place at a chosen school can be accommodated. A high number of applications were received this year. In common with many other areas in the country it is a large year group.
“The investment in the new school has made it more attractive and fewer people have sought places outside the town than in the past.
“In 2017, 73 per cent of pupils remained in the area but in 2019, 85 per cent have opted to remain in the Glossop area. Also fewer people have been able to secure places at out of area schools, for example Chapel-en-le-Frith.
“All these factors have come together, and although 20 extra places were allocated, 39 Derbyshire pupils have not received their first choice of Glossopdale and been offered alternatives, either at St Philip Howard, New Mills or Longdendale. Parents whose children will have to travel outside their local area will be able to apply for support with transport.
“While there is expected to be a couple of years of high numbers of pupils at Glossopdale School, the forecast intake is expected to decline significantly over the medium term, from 220 this year to a forecast of 202 by 2024.
“We believe that over the medium and long term the school has capacity to meet the needs of the local area.
“In the short term it is necessary to carefully manage the intake to ensure that classes and timetabling are manageable for the school and class sizes are not too large, as this would have a detrimental effect on learning.”
Gareth Wilson responded to the incident by creating a petition, telling DCC “to address their capacity problems urgently” – which has quickly garnered 1,009 signatures in three days.
You can sign the petition here.