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Parents are left in dark over children's school place applications
10:00am Friday 3rd August 2012 in News
ABOUT 6,500 families were left in the dark over their applications to attend schools in Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire County Council used software designed and operated by systems firm Capita One to accept applications for September 2012 entry school places.
However, the system failed to confirm receipt of online applications meaning parents had no idea if their applications had gone through.
The council has accepted parents did not receive an acceptable level of customer service, but opposition councillors have demanded answers as to why Capita One was used in the first place.
Mum Jo Busson, 39, said she experienced “appalling” service during the school admissions process for her son Alfie, four.
She said: “I applied online, and to this day I don’t think anyone who did has received an email.
“Through the medium of social media, I learned that you could find out by logging on.
“The council has accepted that this Capita system was dreadful, but the service all the way through hasn’t been great.”
County council Liberal Democrat group leader Zoe Patrick said: “This is an appalling service which has affected thousands of parents.
“I just hope the council learns from this.”
Cabinet member for communications Nick Carter admitted the Capita system had failed, especially coupled with an increase of more than 500 children and a smaller number of surplus places.
He said: “The directorate recognises that the service provided for customers this year has not been good enough and is taking steps to remedy the position.
“Two additional posts will be recruited to the Customer Services Centre (CSC) to provide a better ‘frontline’ response to parents when we deal with the admissions function later this year.”
Capita One managing director Phil Neal said the error was down to an upgrade to the admissions server, but insisted it did not affect the allocation of school places.
Written confirmations were also dispatched successfully.
But Mr Neal admitted: “The error relating to the upgrade was most disappointing and we apologise for any inconvenience that has resulted from this.
“Development work was quickly undertaken to the software.
“This was an isolated incident and no other incident of this type has occurred in other authorities.”
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