I READ with interest the article in the July 30 edition regarding the disappointment of families not being allocated places at Vyners School in Ickenham for Year 7, September 2008 [School row mums: We'll teach our kids at home].
As a foundation school, the Governing body of Vyners School administers its own admission arrangements and criteria, and as such it is wrong to report that Vyners School has a 'catchment area'.
The phrase catchment area infers there is a fixed ring around the school from which Year 7 admissions are drawn. This is a common misconception that the governing body are painstakingly try to dispel, by particularly working with local estates agents to ensure property particulars are not misleading.
The criteria used to fill the 180 places for Year 7 entry admits children with special educational needs statements, those children in local authority care and those with siblings already in the school, ahead of the application of a strict distance criterion.
This takes the distance from the centre of the school to the centre of the property as the crow flies, and ranks these is strict ascending order.
Therefore, the area around the school that the governors offer a place at Vyners School can move considerably year by year, depending on the numbers in the aforementioned groups.
The 'ring' for at least the last four years is pictorially displayed at the school's September open evening, ahead of choices being made, which hopefully gives prospective parents an opportunity to gauge the likelihood of their property being in the area children are drawn from.
Your readers might be interest to know that, this year, Vyners School received over 1,000 applicants for its 180 places and that just over half of the places were allocated before the application of the strict distance criteria rule.
One of the issues faced by the admissions authority, which is part of the governing body of the school, is that often we are faced with applicants saying they have lived in Ickenham all their lives, and indeed went to Vyners themselves, but the reality is Vyners is a school on the edge of Ickenham and not as such 'an Ickenham school'.
The problem is only going to be made worse once properties have been occupied on the new Ickenham Park development - again where an expectation might exist that Vyners School will accommodate pupils in that locality.
The governors of Vyners School are well aware of the disappointment of parents in this situation and the stress the situation can cause, and have sympathy where this occurs.
It is worth highlighting that the admissions arrangements do include an independent appeals process, where disappointed parents can appear in person to appeal against the decision to refuse a place. Each year a number of these appeals are held.
Inevitably a large number of parents are disappointed when a place is not allocated at the school of their choice, but the local authority has a responsibility to offer a place at an alternative.
chairman of the admissions authority and vice-chairman of governors,
Vyners School, Warren Road,