A battle for places at one of London's most popular comprehensives has reached fever pitch after appeals by 47 families were thrown out.

In a move likely to please neither Haringey council, nor parents of excluded children, an independent appeals panel granted places at Muswell Hill's Fortismere school to only 13 extra pupils.

Now a number of the 47 protesters whose children have been allocated places at three less popular schools - White Hart Lane and Langham in Tottenham and St David and St Katherine's in Hornsey - are appealing to the local government ombudsman, which investigates maladministration. Some want to teach children at home.

Christine Hall, one campaigner, said: 'We want to know what monitoring procedure there is over the panel's decision and who they are answerable to.' Her daughter has been given a place at Fortismere after qualifying earlier through the waiting list.

Haringey council said the appeals system panel was made up of a volunteer parent, a teacher and a school governor . 'They were chosen as independent individuals, none of them has links with Fortismere. They interviewed all parents who appealed against the allocations, treated each case on its merits, considered social and medical factors, and spent hours on their decision.'

The row began in May when it emerged that 407 children had listed Fortismere as their first choice comprehensive. It had space for 206.

The school became over-subscribed after appearing among the top 100 state schools in government exam league tables. Good GSCE results also attracted parents who would have paid for independent schooling.

That narrowed the unofficial catchment area. Children from primaries that had fed Fortismere were no longer eligible.

The protesters object to Langham and White Hart Lane because they are on the other side of the borough. Neither has the record of academic achievement of Fortismere.

White Hart Lane finished low in the league table and an Ofsted report on Langham said the curriculum lacked breadth and balance, although its standards were found to be improving. The Labour council's new education chairman, Lucy Craig, said: 'Fortismere is a victim of its own success.

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