HUNDREDS of children are travelling outside of Basingstoke to go to secondary school, according to figures obtained by The Gazette.

The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act by Hampshire County Council, show that an increasing number of secondary school aged children are attending schools elsewhere, rising from 1,234 in 2017/2018, to 1,411 in 2018/2019.

This represents 19 per cent and 22 per cent respectively of pupil numbers, showing that almost a quarter of all children who live in the town go to schools in other areas.

Maha Younossi, from Coniston Road, Kempshott, chooses to send her 14-year-old daughter to Perins School, in Alresford.

The 40-year-old mother-of-three was dissatisfied with the education her eldest daughter received at Aldworth School, and so decided to send her middle child outside of the borough.

She said: “My eldest daughter did quite well for herself at Aldworth, she was a senior prefect and always in the top sets, but it was mostly down to her own abilities. She would sit down and study hard and was eager to learn. When it came to my second daughter, she’s very intelligent but needs someone to encourage her to study or she loses her focus. I found she wasn’t getting the help with this. She wasn’t being challenged enough.”

Aldworth School headteacher Denis McCabe said: “We encourage parents to make contact with the school if they have any concerns and there are a number of channels to do this through. This enables most issues to be resolved effectively if they arise.

“I am unable to comment on an individual case.”

Mrs Younossi looked at other schools in the borough but said she wasn’t happy with their results.

She said: “Basingstoke is doing really badly for secondary education. The only good school is Bishop Challoner but unless you come from a Catholic background you can’t go there. It’s a big problem. I have friends who have moved from Basingstoke because of the schools.”

Mrs Younossi said moving wasn’t an option for her family, adding: “We have been living here for 20 years and we love being in Basingstoke. I think the town needs to up its game with education.”

Her daughter now catches a bus which collects a number of children from Basingstoke at 7.30am, returning at 4.15pm, and costing £130 a month.

Mrs Younossi said: “It’s really hard on her because it’s two hours gone from her study time and when she gets home she’s really tired.”

However, she believes she made the right decision as her daughter is doing well at Perrins.

She believes Hampshire County Council should be providing top-quality secondary education in Basingstoke, adding: “When Basingstoke is growing so fast you need to have quality schools, and the quality of education is really poor.”

Of the town’s six secondary schools, four are rated as ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted – Aldworth, Costello, Cranbourne and Everest.

The other two, The Vyne and Brighton Hill, are rated as ‘good’.

The figures from Hampshire County Council show that for 2018/2019, of the secondary aged children living within Basingstoke, 5,306 (79 per cent) attend one of the six secondary schools in the town (not including Bishop Challoner which does not have a catchment boundary defined by the local authority because its admission policy is based on faith) and 504 (eight per cent) attend a school within the borough of Basingstoke and Deane.

The remaining 907 (14 per cent) attend a school outside of the borough, which has risen by three per cent from the previous year.

Councillor Stephen Reid, executive member for education and skills, human resources and performance at Hampshire County Council, said: “Parents have the right to make a preference for the secondary school they wish their children to attend. The reasons for their choice of school will be individual and personal to them and are not recorded by the county council.

“Right across Hampshire we find children who attend schools outside their catchment, sometimes even across county boundaries, and movements are both outwards and inwards. I applaud parents who make a conscious decision to choose the schools they think are best for their children.”