Online application process sees council given an ‘F’

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THE council has apologised to parents after an error in its online application process meant thousands were left waiting to find out where their children will be going to school next year.

On Thursday, youngsters had been expecting to find out which secondary school they would be attending in September.

But an error in the council’s email system meant close to 3,000 were left without any news.

The problem was made worse by the fact that this year a record 76.5 per cent of applicants had applied to receive news about their application online.

One angry parent, Matthew Lutz, emailed the Citizen to say: ‘MK Council has truly messed up the most important day of the year for many families.

‘Our 10-year-old has been waiting for weeks to find out where she is going to school and my wife cancelled business trips so we could log on and find out where our daughter will spend the next seven years of her educational life – but it wasn’t until the last minute that MK Council decided to tell us the system wasn’t going to be working.’

A council spokesman said: “We wish to apologise to all parents and carers that were expecting an advance email notification of school places and failed to do so.

“Regrettably the system we use to process online applications did not send the email notifications as planned on the evening of Thursday, March 1.

“However, we can reassure parents and carers that all letters regarding the allocation of Year 7 secondary school places for September 2012 have been posted out as planned.

“We are sorry that parents and carers were disappointed not to receive the information on school place allocation ahead of the formal letters arriving, but we can confirm that this will not have any impact on the allocation of places or the process of appeal.”

The email notification was supposed to provide parents and carers who have applied online with the opportunity to view the outcome of their application ahead of the letters arriving through the post.

The spokesman added: “When the issue was identified we immediately contacted our supplier and received and applied a fix.

“However this did not resolve the issue.”

On Friday the council’s school admissions team made special arrangements to handle telephone calls and emails so that parents and carers, anxious about the outcome of their application, could be given as much information as possible.

Information was also posted on the Milton Keynes Council website.

Parents and carers now have until March 15 to accept offers of places and all letters have a reply slip for this purpose.

This year 85.5 per cent of pupils have received their first preference of school compared with 89 per cent last year.

For information parents can call 01908 253085, 01908 253733 or 01908 253242.