One of the biggest topics hitting my mail bag in recent weeks has been the topic of local schools, with many parents across the constituency finding out if their child has been successful in getting the school place they wanted, whilst the Government announced proposals to turn all schools into academies.
Pressure on school places is growing, especially in our towns, where increased house building means more families and more competition for school places. This is particularly true in the towns of Lewes and Newhaven where most of the letters from parents have come from. It is a problem likely to get worse with more homes planned for these towns in the next few years.
When I have parents devastated because their child cannot get a local school place it seems misguided to close schools – Pells & Rodmell - in the two towns facing the greatest number of new houses. I am meeting with County officials this week to discuss this further and there are public meetings next week concerning both schools.
Meanwhile, the Government’s white paper proposals to turn all schools in to academies has seen parents and teachers writing to me in their hundreds. I too am concerned. While I am supportive of academies and have been a governor of one in the past, I do not feel we should be forcing schools to become academies against their will. I will not be supporting this proposal if it comes to a vote later in the year.
I am working with parents locally to ensure their local schools stay open, perform well and get fairer funding from national government. Schools are more than just places to pass texts and exams, they are part of local communities and can inspire and motivate the next generation and it is our duty to support them in any way we can.