Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden is calling for an independent enquiry into the way demand for school places is calculated by LEA?s. 65 pupils from the greater Harpenden area have not been initially allocated places in a local school of their choice. Peter will be meeting a group of parents in his surgery at Wheathampstead to discuss the issue this Friday, Friday 10th March.
Peter said, “The priority must be to find the maximum number of places in local schools for these pupils. I have already taken up the issue with the County Council and will be pressing it further following my meeting with local parents.
“The situation is a shock since the number of school places in Harpenden has been increasing as a result of pressure by myself and others following problems two or three years ago. As a result an extra form of entry was agreed at St George?s School. There has also been a reduction in the number of pupils seeking places in schools over the rest of the County. Applications fell from 13,072 last year to 12,336 in Hertfordshire as a whole. So it is very strange that the numbers of pupils in Greater Harpenden applying for places in secondary school has increased from 515 last year to 575 this year. This does not seem to have been anticipated by County Council officials, who are predicting a decline next year and the year after. We need to investigate what has gone wrong this year before we can have any confidence in the figures for the future.?
“I call upon all local schools to take the maximum number of pupils this year to help accommodate this unforeseen bulge. If necessary the County Council must investigate increasing capacity by creating temporary additional classroom space.?