HERTFORDSHIRE'S controversial secondary transfer rules have again been thrust under the microscope after Markyate Parish Council elected to take up the case of one young family.

Parish councillors and members of the village's Secondary Transfer Action Group (STAG) have chosen to throw their weight behind the Kiran family's campaign to get their middle child a place at a popular Harpenden school.

The family, who moved into Cleveland Road, Markyate, earlier this year, already send their eldest daughter to Roundwood Park School.

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They moved from London in the belief that their two younger children, who are currently at Markyate JMI School, would follow in their sister's footsteps by going to Roundwood Park.

But after an arduous appeals process, the Kirans' middle child remains without a place in Harpenden and is instead expected to travel to an under-subscribed Hemel Hempstead comprehensive.

This week, Markyate's parish councillors wrote to Mr Ray Shostak, director of the county's children, schools and families department, in an attempt to avert what they see as a "demographic disaster" for the village.

It said: "Education is such an important issue to young families that, if the Kirans' experience becomes the norm, such young families will stop moving into Markyate and the more mobile young families already living in the village will move away to areas where they can be assured that their children will receive the standard of secondary education they expect."

Councillors are calling for an urgent and complete review of the family's case, which they claim should never have got to this stage.

Mrs Helen Williams, chair of Markyate STAG, questioned the county's secondary transfer policy, which has left just one child from the village and its neighbours Redbourn and Flamstead without a place at their preferred school.

However, a spokesman for Hertfordshire County Council defended its secondary transfer policy, and said unpopular but necessary cut-off points had to exist.

She said: "The admission rules state that a sibling must already be a pupil at the relevant school when an application is made and this wasn't the case for the Kiran family.

"Their eldest daughter completed her exams at her old school and will take up her place in September which meant that she wasn't actually on the register when her younger sister applied.

"Roundwood Park School is already taking ten more pupils than originally planned and it is a very full school. Admissions officers are faced with the difficult task of weighing up the advantages of a child going to a particular school with the disadvantages for the kids already there.

"It's all very well to simply say let another one in but we have to have a cut-off point or we will be left explaining to parents why there aren't enough computers or bunsen burners to go around."