The following is the text of my letter to Derbyshire County Council urging them to build the extra classrooms needed at Glossopdale School by next September and what advice they are giving to families if they won’t.
As secondary school place applications for 2020/21 open this week, I am writing to seek reassurances that the problems experienced by families in the Glossop area over the last two years will not be repeated for the current cohort.
I note with some concern that the Published Admission Number (PAN) for Glossopdale has remained at 200 and that, when combined with the PAN for St Philip Howard, this continues to fall short of the number of year 6 children presently attending Glossop primary schools.
On the basis of the numbers you sent to me earlier this year, although I recognise that some families will choose to send their children out of area for secondary education, I am concerned that if 85% again express a preference for either of the two Glossop schools, there will not be enough places to accommodate those children.
The additional classrooms originally planned as an option will therefore be required to accommodate the 2020 cohort. I understand that the Authority has agreed in principle to the expansion of the school, as set out in the original plans, but funding is not yet in place to enable work to start. I understand that some section 106 funding is being sought, but with the small and piecemeal nature of plans coming forward in Glossop, this will not be sufficient. Any larger scale development, such as on the old school site, would mean that more places are required than the planned extra classrooms will provide.
In light of the urgency of the situation and need for parents on the edges of Glossop to be able to plan their children’s schooling and manage their expectations, please would you share with me the timetable for the expansion phase and details of how it is to be funded.
Please could you also let me know how the proposed conversion of Glossopdale to Academy status will impact on the expansion plans. With both Glossop Secondary Schools likely to be academies by the beginning of 2020 and therefore responsibility for admissions and additional places falling to the Trusts, there is considerable concern in Glossop that this will hamper the expansion of either school.
I am very interested in how the Authority will fulfil its duty to provide sufficient places in Glossop going forward. Please can you confirm what discussions the Authority has had with the Regional Schools Commissioner, the TRUE Learning Partnership Trust and the St Ralph Sherwin Trust on these issues, and what plans are in place to ensure the sufficiency of secondary school places in the Glossop area going forward.
If the additional places in Glossop are not planned before September 2020, children from Glossop are likely to be allocated places at New Mills although in the past parents have not been made aware that this may be a possibility.
Much anxiety for both children and their parents could be avoided if they had the opportunity to visit New Mills during the application process. Therefore, I would like to know what plans are in place to make Glossop families aware of New Mills as an option, to invite them to open days, and to explore New Mills as an option for their child in advance of submitting their application if there is a possibility that Glossop children may be allocated a place there.
Thank you for your early response in order to give Glossop parents the information they need to make informed decisions about their children’s secondary school options.
Ruth George MP
Member of Parliament for High Peak