Howard's Way 25 May 2006

Contributed by editor on May 25, 2006 - 12:20 AM


HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

May 2006<IMG height=195 hspace=10 src="images/michaelhoward3.jpg" width=130 align=right vspace=10 border=0>

Widespread consternation has been experienced about the proposals from Kent County Council to close Selsted School and merge Harcourt and Morehall Schools in Folkestone.

The reason for these proposals has its origin in the Government’s surplus places rule. This requires local education authorities to take action if the spare places in its schools exceed certain proportions. At last year’s General Election the Conservative Party criticised this rule and said we would abolish it. So the action that is now proposed might well have been unnecessary if the result of that election had been different.

But as things stand Kent County Council has no alternative but to take action. That does not, however, mean that it has to take precisely the action it now proposes. I have grave reservations about its proposals and will do all I can to persuade it to change them.

The proposals have been put out to consultation and everyone concerned about them should take full advantage of this exercise to make their views known.

I think that the proposals have not been properly thought through.

On Selsted, for example, I do not think a proper judgement can be made without an analysis of where the children who attend the school at present will go in future. If any such analysis exists it certainly hasn’t been made public.

The closure of Harcourt would, I believe, be a devastating blow to the community it serves and fails to take account of the improvements that have taken place under its new
head teacher.

So I shall do all I can to fight these proposals. To do so effectively I need the help and support of all who share my concerns. I am confident I will get it.