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Minutes of the 17 October 2006 Community Meeting
1. Police report
Sgt Marcus Puddephat was unable to attend, but 3 PCSOs discussed issues of concern informally with those present.
2. Gil Sweetenham, Chair of the Secondary Schools Admissions Review
Gil Sweetenham outlined the problem of secondary schools admissions: there are 8 community schools in the city and the majority of parents choose 3 or 4. Over 91% of families achieve one of their preferences but this year 151 families did not get a place at a school for which they had expressed a preference. Gil said that the Working Group had been ‘tasked with looking at the best system for the city as a whole’. The final options are choosing by ballot, catchment areas, distance, feeder primaries or nodes taking into account parental preference, sibling links, special needs, demography and social justice. The last is particularly complex as the city centre, where the problem is most acute, is also where the most deprived children live. The WG would recommend that the new arrangements should be reviewed in 5 years time (unless there was a substantial population change in the city, meantime). He believed that in 5 years time ‘secondary schools will be very different ie individual schools would specialise in what they offered and e-learning would be significant’. He was keen to emphasise that there had been no political interference in the process and that by including parents in the review panel the Council had broken new ground. In a lively discussion it was pointed out that only 35% of parents in our area get their first choice, that our local school is a faith school that has no requirement to give preference to local children, that more housing may make the problem worse, that travel to non-local schools has a significant congestion and environmental cost; and it was generally agreed that there is no ideal solution. The WG’s recommendations would be in the public domain on 27 October and would go to the Children, Families and School’s Committee on 6 Nov.
3. Minutes of previous meeting
These were approved.
4. Parking review
Peter Freeman gave Councillor Roy Pennington’s apologies and relayed message that council officials would come back to Environment Committee in mid November; one possibility was that the review might be implemented, apart from the central area.
5. Update from Management Committee
Adam Jones reported that MC had been looking at some clarifying amendments to the constitution.
6. Royal Alexandra Hospital
Peter Freeman reported that we still did not know the purchaser of the main site.
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