Rt Hon Lord Lilley


    The ‘Any Questions’ style panel was made up of education experts and was devoted to Education issues.   It will be broadcast at 6pm on Sunday 29th April.

    Peter Lilley, praising the organisers for selecting education as the topic for the show’s first thematic debate, said: “Good education is crucial for employment, enlightenment and enjoyment of life.”

     A hot local issue raised by the audience was the failure for the second year running of Council planners to forecast the sharp rise in primary school applications in Hitchin and Harpenden where 60 children have not been allocated a place in any of their chosen schools. Peter Lilley said “Most families do eventually get a place in the school of their choice.   But to save families the anguish of waiting for the continuing interest process it is vital that we find out what has gone wrong and improve the forecasting process – as was done for secondary transfer. However, forecasting is more difficult than it might seem. Up to a quarter of people move home every year. The number of people who opt for the independent sector fluctuates from year to year. The proportion of people moving to Harpenden who have children is changing rapidly. And although the questioner felt that the Council simply had to find the number of children registered with GPs, the speed at which people who move home register and de-register with their GP may vary.”

    Another issue raised was the high number of young people currently “not in education, employment, or training” (NEET) and how the education system should respond. Peter pointed out that “the number of NEETs was rising when the job market was strong. So the rise cannot be just because of the recession. There must be a sociological reason why a growing number of young people will not engage in education or employment.   We must find out what it is and tackle it directly.”

    The panel were also asked about vocational education.   Peter Lilley said “the British education system has historically been biased against vocational education which, if provided at all, was assumed to be reserved for less able pupils. But we need high quality, rigorous vocational courses and qualifications for students of all levels of ability.”

    Radio Verulam will be airing the show at 6.00pm on Sunday 29th April


    The panel consisted of:

    • Peter Lilley MP (Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden)

    • Zoe Hancock (Principal of Oaklands College),

    • Jon Berry (School of Education, University of Hertfordshire)

    • David Weston (Teacher and consultant in education and data)

    • Adam Nichols (Founder of a new free school in Harpenden)

    • Margaret Chapman (Head of St Albans Girls School)


    For further information, contact Annabel Palmer


    Tel: 020 7219 0157