Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, met Redbourn parents affected by the crisis over transfers to secondary schools in Harpenden and promised them his wholehearted support.

    Peter Lilley said: “It is completely unacceptable that for the second year running parents and pupils in Redbourn should again be allocated places outside the District at a school which was not one of their choices. Together with Councillor Derek Hills I am doing all in my power both to ensure that this year Redbourn?s pupils? desire for places in Harpenden are respected and to prevent this problem recurring in future years. That is vital to save parents and pupils the distress and anguish of this process, to maintaining a thriving primary school and to ensure Redbourn remains a vibrant community.?

    He explained to parents that: “Last year Councillor Derek Hills and I put enormous pressure on the County which resulted in virtually all the pupils who wanted a place in Harpenden or St Albans obtaining one there.

    “We have since been working to try to ensure that this year pupils did not again have to go through that agonising process of rejection and uncertainty before finally obtaining a place. We were assured that the rule affecting Townsend school which had caused last year?s problem was being changed and that far fewer pupils were leaving Redbourn primary this year so the problem would not recur.

    However, some months ago, I met local secondary headteachers who warned me that despite the small cohort from Redbourn there was a big surge of potential applicants from local primary schools in Harpenden and nearby which would cause renewed problems in Harpenden schools. I therefore wrote to the County urging them to provide temporary additional classrooms in the schools to meet this demand while more permanent space was under construction. This they did which should have achieved a balance. However, the County now say that the numbers of applicants has exceeded even those identified in the primary schools because of two dozen more pupils than normal from private schools applying for County secondary school places.

    “I am urging them to take all possible steps to resolve this problem with priority given to solving the problem in Redbourn. It is clearly unacceptable that the village should face this uncertainty again and it would be damaging to the local primary school and the village itself if this were to be likely to recur.?