Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, promised a meeting of local parents to do all in his power to ensure that they receive a place in a school of their choice. He is also asking Ministers to change the rules so that in future pupils who are not initially allocated a place at any of their chosen schools will be given higher priority in the allocation of places that subsequently become available.

    Last Friday, Peter Lilley met parents from Wheathampstead and Kimpton who had not received places at any of their selected schools, to discuss their concerns. Parents welcomed the reassurance given by David Lloyd, the County Councillor responsible for Schools, that he would be very surprised if they were not all given places in one of their chosen schools by the end of the process.

    Commenting afterwards, Peter said, “I fully understand the anguish that parents and pupils have to go through as a result of this period of uncertainty.

    “If sufficient places do not become available as some parents move away or go for schools in the independent sector I promise to do all in my power to ensure that adequate places are made available so that pupils do get places at one of their preferred schools.

    “Although the number of pupils without places in their chosen schools was even greater at the same stage last year all parents did obtain places at one of their chosen schools.

    “I promised to investigate whether it is possible to minimise the strain this process causes on families by shortening the period between the initial allocation of places, subsequent rounds of allocating places which become available as parents relinquish places they have been offered, and the appeal process.

    “Parents whose children had not been allocated a place at any of their chosen schools were upset that they did not receive any preference in the allocation of places which subsequently become available over parents who have received a place at one school they ranked but are seeking to switch to a school they rank more highly. So I have put down a parliamentary question asking the education minister whether local authorities could in future years be allowed to give preference to pupils who have not been allocated a place at any of their chosen schools.

    “Some months ago I held a meeting with David Lloyd and asked him if he could release additional places at the most popular schools at the beginning of the process to minimise parental anguish. David explained that if this was done there could be surplus places at the end of the process which would legally have to be offered to out of County applicants. This would cause problems in future years as siblings of these out of County applicants would then receive preference over local children. There appeared to be no way round this problem.”