Local Labour representatives have been outraged at the breaking news on Friday (March 1) of 189 children not being offered a place at any of the County’s secondary schools.
Dreda Gordon, district and county councillor, has written to HCC Cabinet Member for Education, Libraries and Localism, Cllr Terry Douris, pointing out just how bad the situation is: “29 children from London Colney Primary schools have currently not been allocated any secondary school place. That is the equivalent of one whole class, from the 3 London Colney primary schools.”
Colney Heath parish councillor Iain Grant reinforced the point: “It’s an easy target to highlight the delays and administrative nightmare over the Katherine Warington school in Harpenden, but the wider problems across the district are being ineptly handled and haven’t appeared overnight. There are 12 families currently with no allocated school in Colney Heath.”
The numbers of children with no allocated space for the St Albans area currently, by parish, are as follows:
Colney Heath 12, London Colney 29, Sandridge 1, St Albans 50, St Michael 1, St Stephen 24.
A GRAND TOTAL OF 117
There has been a long list of Conservative failings in education planning – at national and county level – that have contributed to the current crisis, such as national policy restricting the money “pooled” from new developments that could be channelled into schools. Locally, schools have been closed and sold off for housing, with promises on ring-fenced allocations that have stoked up placement pressures. Meanwhile the demand for primary places in the city has continued to grow – as have those children.
Roma Mills, district and county councillor, highlights the crisis in St Albans: “It has been apparent, from meetings with County officers over the years, that there were ongoing pressures over primary and secondary places in the city. The can has been repeatedly kicked down the road, but the Tory administration has now run out of road.”
Our local MP, ‘leading’ a Parliamentary debate on school places (https://www.annemain.com/content/school-places), observed that “At secondary level, things are little better.” That was in around 2012. It appears the lack of action, and the lack of leadership, has risen to the top since then.
Parents without allocated places are now being informed that the County Council will shortly be stripping out “duplicate offers” (held for Katherine Warington and another school) in the first “continuing interest” round. Given the turmoil that the delayed go-ahead for the new school has already caused, Labour representatives on your councils will be closely monitoring this process, and will be seeking early and public reassurances that the Katherine Warington school opening (already put back from September 2018) will not be subject to further delay.