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Brookmans Park School AGM 1999
More than 70 people attended the Annual Meeting for Parents and Governors of Brookmans Park School on Thursday October 21, to hear guest speaker George Shiells, chair of governors at Chancellor's speak about the school's recent changes to its admissions criteria.
Many parents of children at Brookmans Park had opposed the decision to remove their school's status as a preferred feeder for the village comprehensive.
According to Brookmans Park's chair of Governors, Jeremy Silverstone, the meeting was a chance to, 'clear the air'.
"I thought Mr Shiells spoke extremely well, and gave us a clear indication that he wishes the special relationship between our schools to continue. The evening also served to demonstrate to parents that there are lots of excellent developments at Brookmans Park School, and that we have a very strong team committed to maintaining and even improving our already high standards," Mr Silverstone said.
Jeremy Silverstone has written the following report on the meeting for this site:
After the Chairman thanked the staff, governors and PTA for all their efforts during the year, George Shiells, Chair of Governors at Chancellor's School, addressed the meeting.
Mr Shiells acknowledged the disappointment of many Brookmans Park parents, and said he would feel the same in their situation.
He then detailed the history of the development of Chancellor's and the background to the recent changes in admissions criteria, emphasising the fact that Brookmans Park School had only enjoyed a preferential status since the schools went Grant Maintained in 1994.
He also highlighted the Government's Code of Practice on admissions criteria which obliges all schools to act in the best interests of all parents within their catchment area.
As a radius of three miles around Chancellor's had been agreed (plus the exceptional case of Cuffley), it was impossible for Chancellor's to maintain their preferential treatment towards Brookmans Park School.
Finally Mr Shiells outlined the specific changes in the new criteria, and stated that 500 applications had been received last year for 170 places.
He also detailed the numbers of applicants for the 'special skills' places, indicating that any successful applicants within these criteria would have to be of a truly exceptional standard.
The parents present were then invited to raise any concerns, and a number of issues were raised.
In response, Mr Shiells confirmed that there would have been no change in the final outcome, had objections from Brookmans Park School been submitted to the Adjudicator earlier, and he reiterated his commitment to a close relationship between the two schools.
He said he could not be certain what effect the changes in criteria will have on the level of applications overall, either in the short or long term, as so many factors will affect this.
He confirmed that siblings will be admitted before all other applications are allocated in proportion to the total number of applicants from each school, and that within each school's applications, those living closest to Chancellor's would be given priority.
In response to a number of specific queries regarding admissions and selection criteria, Mr Shiells asked parents to contact the school itself; as a member of the Chancellor's admissions appeals committee, he cannot be too involved in the initial process.
He made a number of comments regarding the views and actions of Labour councillors and agreed that their views seemed to contradict the Party policy regarding children attending the school closest to their home.
The Chairman thanked Mr Shiells for attending the meeting and for taking the time to clarify the reasons for the changes, and summarised by expressing the hope that the two schools can continue to work closely together.
After Mr Shiells left the meeting, parents were given the opportunity to put questions to the members of Brookmans Park School's Governing body, and again there were several issues raised.
In response to a question about SATs results, the Headmaster confirmed that significant improvements had been achieved in the English Maths and Science tests at Key Stage 2, and that these results should put us very close to the top of the league table.
A number of questions were raised regarding the financial accounts. In answering, the Chairman, Headmaster and Chair of the Finance committee all made the point that the School's budget allocation is extremely tight but that it was being very carefully controlled to ensure that teaching levels are maintained.
Parents were asked to encouraged their children to take up school meals, which are now better than ever, thanks to the efforts of an excellent new chef. A discussion also took place regarding ways to raise money, and these ideas are being (or will be) developed by the PTA.
After what had been a highly constructive discussion, the meeting closed at 9.15pm.
October 22, 1999
Have your say
Did you attend the meeting? Are you happy with how the admissions issue was handled? Are there any other issues you are concerned about? Have Your Say