MP visits local primary school in Hurstpierpoint
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert paid a visit to St Lawrence Primary School in Hurstpierpoint on Friday 11 June to meet the pupils and staff.
Mr Herbert was given a tour of the school by Headteacher Paul Dyer, including a visit to the vegetable garden where pupils were busy growing a variety of organic food including rhubarb and strawberries.
He also dropped into a Year 3 class and asked the children if they had a message for the new Prime Minister David Cameron, to which one pupil responded: "Congratulations!"
Later, the MP took part in a question and answer session in the school hall with more than 100 pupils from Years 5 and 6. He answered a range of questions about the work of an MP and on issues such as tuition fees, the economy, climate change, gun laws, SATS tests and the war in Afghanistan.
Mr Herbert also met with Chair of Governors Tim Moulds, the West Sussex Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Peter Griffiths (Hurstpierpoint & Bolney) and Mr Dyer to discuss the shortage of places at the school.
It follows the news that 15 children in the village have not been offered places at St Lawrence in September and will instead have to travel to schools in neighbouring villages.
The MP, who met with parents in April, asked Mr Dyer and Mr Moulds to consider short-term solutions, citing the example of Hassocks Infant School which last year secured a temporary classroom to deal with a similar problem following the intervention of Mr Herbert and Councillor Griffiths.
St Lawrence is a mixed, voluntary aided school with around 425 pupils aged between 4 and 11. It was judged "outstanding" in its last Ofsted report.
Nick Herbert commented: "I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to St Lawrence and I'm grateful to Mr Dyer for showing me around. This is a great school and I can understand why it is so popular. The question and answer session was particularly good and the children had some very interesting and tough questions!"
Mr Herbert added: "I also had a chat with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors about the shortage of places. I thought it was important for me to hear their perspective on the problem and the view of Cllr Peter Griffiths who was very helpful last year in resolving a similar problem in Hassocks, but I also wanted to put the views and concerns of parents who cannot get their children into the school.
"I share the view of parents who, quite reasonably, want to send their children to the local village school. I hope a temporary solution will be possible, but if it isn't I will encourage parents to think about the possibility of opening a new school in the village.
"We've seen parents do this just down the road in Bolnore, and I see no reason why we can't do the same thing here in Hurst, if that's what parents want to do, especially if the demand for places continues to grow. The Government is keen to encourage good new schools. In any case, as the local MP I will certainly help to resolve this problem in any way I can, and I thank the school for listening to my concerns."
Notes for Editors
1. St Lawrence Primary School is located in Trinity Road, Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex BN6 9UY.
2. For the website of St Lawrence Primary School, visit http://www.st-lawrence.w-sussex.sch.uk/.
3. For the latest OFSTED report, published in 2007, visit http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/oxedu_reports/download/(id)/83396/(as)/126058_293451.pdf.