Education secretary Michael Gove reassured parents more school places are being created in south west Hertfordshire - after nearly a fifth of children in the county missed out on their first choice primary school this year.

Speaking at Garston Manor School in Watford last week, Mr Gove accepted there has been a shortfall in primary and secondary school places in the region blaming the previous administration’s inaction as the population increased.

However, he pointed to a £50 million investment in Watford to expand existing school buildings and ensure education facilities are fit for purpose.

Mr Gove added that three new primary schools are in the pipeline.

He said: "My first priority is to make sure every parent has a decent range of choice about where to send their children.

"What happened to cause this situation was that the population went up under the last government, but they did not do anything about it.

"We’ve invested much, much more in schools and building new schools."

Mr Gove was at Garston Manor to check the progress of its new £4.7 million extension, which is scheduled to open this September.

The MP for Surrey Heath said the government had a Priority School’s Building Programme, which will fund improvements to two Watford schools.

Watford Observer:

Michael Gove visits Garston Manor School with Richard Harrington last week  

Some £20 million is going towards the rebuilding of Westfield School on Tolpits Lane, and Kings Langley Secondary School.

But Mr Gove said there was also a wider investment plan specifically for Watford.

He said: "It is important that parents have choice and we will keep investing to make that happen.

"We are committed to investing more in building refurbishment, and building new schools for the community that are fit for purpose.

"We want to provide youth facilities the children deserve.

"We are expanding existing schools, as well as opening new schools for the community.

"We will be spending £50 million in Watford and building three new primary schools."

The wider investment in Watford Schools, worth more than £50 million, includes improvements to buildings of Watford Boys and Girls Grammar Schools worth £1.6million.

Watford MP Richard Harrington arranged the visit for Mr Gove.