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'Scrap admission policy changes' say parents
12:52pm Friday 27th June 2008 in News
PARENTS last night called for the scrapping of proposed changes to admissions criteria at Durham Johnston School.
Parents living near the school say the plans could deny their children places in favour of youngsters from outside the city.
But parents from Shincliffe, High Shincliffe, Bowburn and Park Hill support the changes because it could ensure their historic links with the school.
The meeting was convened at the school last night by Schools Adjudicator Philip Hunter who will make a final decision over the coming weeks.
David Williams, Durham County Council's director of Children and Young People's Services, who apologised at the end of the meeting for the lack of consultation over the matter, said the proposals would bring Durham Johnston in line with countywide policies.
The decision was made in the wake of the closure of the school's Whinney Hill site and its relocation to a new £25m Crossgate Moor campus, which is still under construction.
The closure of the Whinney Hill campus will mean that Durham Johnston is no longer the nearest school for children who live in Bowburn, Shincliffe, High Shincliffe and some parts of the city.
Mr Williams said, by making them associated transport areas, it would ensure the historic links of those communities with the Durham Johnston would be maintained and it would be "equitable and fair".
Vanessa Kind, who is leading the parents' campaign against the move, told the meeting that even though other schools were closer to the outlying communities they would get priority over parents living in Durham City.
She urged the retention of the existing admissions criteria.
Mother-of-three Gail McArdle, representing parents in Shincliffe, High Shincliffe and Bowburn, said there would always be sufficient places for children living within walking distance from the school and those living in "associated transport areas".
While she supported the changes to ensure the communities' links with Durham Johnston, she felt the status quo should be maintained.
She said parents in those areas had raised no objections to the redevelopment as they had been told that their children would continue to go to Durham Johnston.