PRESS RELEASE FROM THE RT HON PETER LILLEY MP
May 19 2009
LILLEY TAKES HARPENDEN SCHOOL PLACES ISSUE TO COMMONS
Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, will call on the Schools Minister in a Commons debate this week to alter the rules on secondary school allocations to enable Councils to guarantee places for all local pupils.
Peter said: “I congratulate my colleague Anne Main, the MP for St Albans, for securing a debate on the allocation of school places in our District of St Albans. I will take part in the debate to highlight the recurring difficulties experienced in Harpenden and the surrounding villages.
“The problem of secondary school selection in Harpenden is particularly acute because we have three very good and popular schools.
“In recent years virtually every parent and pupil has eventually got a place at one of their top ranked schools, but many have had to go through a harrowing process of appeals and waiting for continuing interest lists to provide additional places.
“In years when these processes have not generated sufficient places the County has negotiated with schools to expand their intake to meet the demand.
“I recently held a meeting with the County Councillor responsible for education, Keith Emsall, to see whether there was some way to give parents a guarantee at the beginning of the process that they would get a place in one of their chosen schools at the end of the day. This would avoid a great deal of painful and distressing uncertainty they currently undergo.
“He has given me a written assurance that if the continuing interest process does not provide sufficient places for all local children he will again negotiate with local schools to try to create enough places for everyone.
“But he still cannot give an absolute assurance. So I will urge the Minister to make any changes to the national rules that are needed to enable Councils like Hertfordshire to offer a cast iron guarantee to parents at the beginning of the process rather than waiting until the end. Moving from primary to secondary education is a stressful time. Our chief ambition should be to remove as much of that stress as we can for parents and pupils.”
Further information from John Allen