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EDITIONS
Friday, 3 May, 2002, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Parents' party wins council place
Lobby of Parliament
Campaigners have taken the issue to Parliament
A parents' pressure group campaigning purely on education issues is celebrating having won a council seat in the local elections.

The Local Education Action by Parents party - Leap - was born out of frustration that mainstream parties were not taking seriously the stress faced by families negotiating the secondary school admissions system.

Helen LeFevre
Helen LeFevre: Nurse, mother - and now councillor
The party, based in the Labour-controlled London borough of Lewisham, has been demanding a new non-selective school to relieve the shortage of places in the north of the borough.

One of its five prospective councillors, Helen LeFevre, was elected as the borough council member for the Telegraph Hill ward.

Ms Lefevre, a nurse, has three children of primary school age.

Another member of the party, local doctor Louise Irvine, came bottom of the poll to become Lewisham's mayor but was delighted to get about 8% of the vote.

Demand for change

She said that for a single-issue campaign with no party machinery to manage that against mainstream parties was a great achievement.

"The results show that people were rejecting the current Labour Party handling of education in this borough, saying they want change.

"We expect Labour to take note of that," Dr Irvine said.

She said Labour had in recent months adopted the campaign's call for a new school - but the parents' party was suspicious.

"We thought it was too little and too late and very vague, with no real commitment - something they could have taken back after the election," she said.

Other issues

"So we thought we would keep the pressure on them."

Dr Irvine said that the campaign had also highlighted other issues that people had been raising on the doorsteps, particularly a shortage of primary school places and places for children with special educational needs.

"Plus, lots of issues for black families, to do with the failure of the education system to meet their needs."

So the party intended to continue its fight, and hopes to organise a conference in the near future at which some of these issues can be discussed.

The election had been a learning experience.

"We are not going to go away."


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See also:

30 Apr 02 | UK Education
15 Mar 02 | UK Education
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18 Apr 00 | UK Education
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