Local Education is Becoming Fragmented at the Expense of Pupils

May 13, 2019 5:35 PM
Originally published by West Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats

Nick Hollinghurst, Herts County Councillor for Tring West & Rural, says: "The transition from primary to secondary school is always difficult, not only for the young people concerned but also for their families. Parents may have to plan for daily travel, not only a new route for the child who goes to the new secondary school, but to work out how that can be managed for other school age children. Recently there were large numbers of Hertfordshire schoolchildren for whom the secondary transfer was extremely stressful with pupils and families having to be registered on the "continuing interest" list. They then had to wait anxiously to see if any places might turn up in a suitably located secondary school as other parents withdrew their applications there.

Ashlyn's SchoolBasically the education authority was leaving it up to the parents themselves to shuffle themselves around to find the best match for their children. This is not planning as most of us know it!

And it's an important issue. Children's friendships depend upon it, travel times can control what after-school activities are or are not possible, and the length of a journey can be a tiring and timewasting matter just by itself. Locally some children have been unable to go to Ashlyns and have had to face long journeys with a change of buses - and that on a now unreliable transport network.

But it is perhaps not surprising that difficulties are arising, because the education system is becoming broken up. We now have academies, and several different types of these, together with Free Schools, private schools and the remaining county schools. Some schools are also faith schools and this makes for another level of complexity."

Cllr Nick continues: "Not only that, but you need to be aware that the government has plans to convert the remaining county schools to academies once the number of county schools falls below a threshold. All this makes the planning for the secondary transfer more difficult, and we are now starting to see the consequences.

Teachers and governors are concerned that there is now no unified system of oversight across all school types. This cannot be a good thing. In addition, because of the Free Schools, which can be set up anywhere and regardless of local demand there is a serious lack of integrated planning right across the UK's school system.

Parents are inconvenienced and children suffer. The system becomes inefficient. This fragmented education system is not working."