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Www.harpendenparentsgroup.co.uk Agenda About Harpenden Parents Group The issue The petition The information we have How HCC have acted so far and the outcome.

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Presentation on theme: "Www.harpendenparentsgroup.co.uk Agenda About Harpenden Parents Group The issue The petition The information we have How HCC have acted so far and the outcome."— Presentation transcript:

1 Agenda About Harpenden Parents Group The issue The petition The information we have How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden How do we feel HCC should act now

2 About Harpenden Parents Group and our aim Harpenden Parents Group is an organised group of concerned parents, consisting of over 200 families, who want to safeguard the education of their children We represent interested parents in nursery, primary and secondary school on planning and admissions issues By uniting as one co-ordinated body, we want to work with Hertfordshire County Council and our political representatives to aid communications and to develop sustainable good quality schooling in Harpenden to meet immediate and long-term demand

3 About Harpenden Parents Group and our aim We want to see short, medium and long-term strategies for the development of community schools in Harpenden We would like to ensure local Community Schooling is at the heart of decisions made on allocation of school places across Harpenden We are becoming established as a key and necessary point of contact for Herts CC and Herts policy makers on matters affecting local schooling

4 The Issue The overall issue is a growing primary school cohort DfE figures show that this problem is not going away: This shows growth in primary need in UK until at least 2020, with a knock-on increase in secondary need from 2015 (Harpenden map Appendix I)

5 The HCC Response HCC have provided extra places, however, the piecemeal way they have done so is inconsistent, incoherent and immensely stressful for all parents caught up in it 2011 HCC allocated the shortfall (around 70 children) to a single school, The Lea, which clearly could not cope 2012 In response to criticism from 2011, HCC simply did not allocate the shortfall (around 60 children) any school

6 The HCC Response Both of these responses caused enormous, needless stress In both cases extra places were released mid-process. The reason for this appears to be to avoid any excess places being taken by non-Hertfordshire residents Whilst this has meant all pupils got places in Harpenden, HCC’s failure to match places to demand means that many face long years of commuting across already congested parts of Harpenden The piecemeal insertion of bulge classes is also creating a ticking bomb, where two classes worth of siblings will jostle with local under-supply for single class entry

7 The Petition Opened on the 30 th May The final number of petitioners on the 30 th July was A wide range of people signed the petition, including:- o HCC Councillors o Town Councillors o School Governors o School Teachers o Established residents of the town o Parents of older children concerned about secondary o Parents of young children o People without children

8 The information we have and where we get it from HCC sharing information Local Parents and Families o Members of the HPG and local forums Freedom of Information Act (See Appendix II) o How your decision process works o How your decision process doesn't work

9 The information we have and where we get it from This information shows HPG o where the demand is o what you have and haven't done about it o that you could meet the demand if you tried o It also shows a level of disorganisation, limited inventiveness, lack of collaboration between your departments and a low energy to succeed where the right solution for the people concerned may be possible, but slightly more difficult to achieve

10 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden Major issues were encountered in 2011 admissions, with emergency solutions implemented to address them – this is not a new problem Yet in 2012 over sixty children were given no school place on Allocation Day – a traumatic situation for the families involved This could have been avoided: o HPG provided forecast information to the council planning officers in a meeting on 28 September 2011 o The Council’s own forecast numbers from October 2011, May 2011 and as far back as April 2010 clearly indicated that a shortfall would exist in 2012

11 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden The final decision on which schools would be expanded does not however appear to have been taken until 15 March 2012 This demonstrates a lack of co-ordination and planning by HCC. The papers obtained under FOI show that the process for making a decision on how best to spend half a million pounds of public money was poorly thought out and disorganised: o Expansion at Crabtree Infants School would have met the highest demand o Investigation of planning issues began too late, meaning that assumptions were made about deliverability which were never fully tested.

12 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden The transport reports for High Beeches were commissioned, but then not widely read; with a suggestion from the report to "investigate" a park and stride scheme being translated through a process of Chinese-whispers into this being a requirement which meant that High Beeches could not proceed. Conversely, the traffic report on Wood End from Stomor is clear that the local road network appears to be capable of accommodating the increase in traffic, "providing that the majority of additional pupils are expected to originate within walking distance of the school".

13 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden No more than 8 of the 61 children not allocated a place on allocation day live within sensible walking distance of Wood End and HPG is aware of a large number of parents who will need to drive to Wood End. Accordingly, a key premise for expanding Wood End was not met Advice paid for has not been taken and seemingly wilfully ignored In a meeting on 26 April 2012, one of your officers informed us that an additional class at Crabtree (the school in the area of most acute need of extra places) was "100% non-deliverable".

14 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden From the papers that we have seen, this is clearly not the case, with Crabtree perhaps being more awkward, but eminently deliverable and at a lower cost than Wood End. It seems that Crabtree was excluded because the council ran out of time for finalising expansion arrangements, and its assessment of Crabtree was not fully complete. The comments made about Crabtree being incapable of expansion echoed comments made in a meeting on 7 June 2011, where officers informed HPG that Manland could not take an additional class. Yet, Manland is one of the schools expanded for

15 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden It is difficult for us to maintain confidence in the accuracy of comments made by officers when they subsequently appear not to be borne out by the facts Officers have talked about ‘engaging’ with HPG and the local community but it seems that those officers actually have no intention of doing so They have not followed up on promises of information and appear to have misled HPG with much of the information they have provided

16 How HCC have acted so far and the outcome for Harpenden HPG is very keen to work with the Council to ensure that the debacles of the last two years' allocation processes are not repeated in 2013 If HPG is to work positively with the council, its members will need to be satisfied that this is reciprocal, i.e. that the Council is committed to working positively with our Group Currently our members are in danger of losing confidence in HCC.

17 What HCC should do now? Primary schools o 2013: expand school where the demand is  Use GP data to identify location of demand and expand those schools  Crabtree/High Beeches  Obtain necessary planning permissions for school(s) expansion now  Inform parents which schools will be expanded early o Understand and Resolve the impact caused by temporary expansions (Manland 2014/15; St Dominic) o Commit not to allocate NRAs to Faith or Montessori Free School

18 Secondary Schools The problem In 2012, 165 extra Primary School places were needed in Harpenden, Redbourn and Wheathampstead Where will these children go to Secondary School in future years? In 3 years, there will be a shortage of Secondary School places in Harpenden What HCC should do now? The Council should work with Harpenden / Wheathampstead / Redbourn etc communities to establish sufficient places for the future

19 Appendix I A graph showing the upward trend of primary applications over the past 6 years

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21 Appendix II Information Received under FIOA detailing your decision process for 2012


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