Barking

SIR, — I was interested to see (Herts Advertiser, April 2) the comment from Herts County Councillor Bernard Lloyd that parents should come up with practical solutions to help the county council resolve the annual admissions problem. There is a phrase whi

SIR, - I was interested to see (Herts Advertiser, April 2) the comment from Herts County Councillor Bernard Lloyd that parents should come up with practical solutions to help the county council resolve the annual admissions' problem. There is a phrase which goes, "you don't keep a dog and bark yourself". Since when is it the responsibility of parents to work out how to ensure that adequate school places are planned for? I thought we taxpayers paid John Harris, Head of Children, Schools and Families, nearly �160,000 a year to do that sort of thing.

Anyway, since I can remember, parents have been offering practical suggestions to the county council to iron out the inequalities within the admissions system. One of these has been the suggestion that the county should ensure that siblings from outside the priority area are not given a school place ahead of local children. I and others have offered this suggestion year after year to the county and it would resolve some of the problems that arise from large numbers of siblings from outside the district and the county who gain places at our primary and secondary schools because they are following siblings.

Many other Local Education Authorities have an admission rule which ensures that siblings from outside the district are not given priority. In the north of the district it would also help to match this rule change with an increase in secondary school places that is undoubtedly needed, and which would ensure that increased school places were effectively earmarked for children within the priority area, rather than going to siblings some of whom come from many miles away.

I also notice that while the county has introduced a "fast-track". continuing-interest (CI) process, which I completely support, any benefits of speeding up the process have been completely lost by the decision not to run CI until five weeks after allocation day. In previous years CI has run every two weeks from allocation day.

You can imagine how parents with no ranked school are feeling after five weeks - I've also been told that now CI will run every three weeks, not fortnightly, and so far I have seen no valid justification for this change from the county council.

CLLR JUDY SHARDLOW,

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LibDem District Councillor, Wheathampstead Ward.

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