At the bilateral meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karl Erjavec, new areas of cooperation in the political, economic, education, energy and technology spheres were identified.Foreign Minister Samaraweera thanked his counterpart for the warm reception accorded to him and his delegation by the Slovenian Government. He offered to host the first round of political consultations in 2017 and invited Foreign Minister Erjavec to visit Sri Lanka.Minister Samaraweera was invited to deliver a keynote address at the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) on “Democracy, Reconciliation and Development – vision for a new Sri Lanka”. At the Institute, Minister Samaraweera was presented with an award in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of reconciliation and harmony among different groups in Sri Lanka, by Professor Ernest Petric, Vice President of the Advisory Board of IFIMES. Presenting the award, Professor Petric commended the Minister for dedicating his political career to the promotion of social and ethnic harmony in Sri Lanka and noted that the new trajectory of the present Government of Sri Lanka provided an example to other countries. During the bilateral discussions with the Slovenian leadership, both sides noted the shared values and common commitment to upholding the principles of democracy, rule of law and human rights, which are an integral part of the policies of the two countries and central to ensuring the human security of the people.The Slovenian leadership commended the efforts of Sri Lanka’s National Unity Government’s political and economic reform agenda and reiterated the support of the Government of Slovenia for the efforts made to strengthen democracy, promote reconciliation and a lasting peace in Sri Lanka. During the visit, Minister Samaraweera met with President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Miro Cerar, Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek and reaffirmed Sri Lanka’s commitment to strengthening and consolidating the longstanding relations between Sri Lanka and Slovenia and identifying new areas of cooperation between the two countries. Minister Samaraweera also visited the Jozef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, one of the top ten research institutes in Europe and discussed research collaboration with identified Sri Lankan research institutions and universities. Sri Lanka has reaffirmed its commitment to further advance ties with Slovenia, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera visited the Republic of Slovenia on the invitation of Hon Karl Erjavec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia to attend the 11th Bled Strategic Forum 2016. Speaking at the Bled Strategic Forum at the panel discussion on “Human Security: You and I Matter”, Minister Samaraweera outlined Sri Lanka’s experience of a protracted conflict and the efforts of the Government of Sri Lanka to move in a new direction based on the three pillars of democratization, reconciliation and economic development.
Families in urban areas are most likely to be affected by the shortfall in places, with parts of London, Greater Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham expected to receive more applications than they have school places.In 2013/14, there were just under half a million pupils applying for secondary school places, which had risen to over 560,000 by 2017/18. Justine Roberts, chief executive of Mumsnet, said that national offer day is a “much discussed” topic on their online forum.”Many parents believe getting into the right school has a big impact on their children’s life chances and happiness,” she said.Ms Roberts added that parents who “cheat the system” to secure their child a place at a good schools “adds to people’s anxiety and sense of injustice”.A separate piece of analysis by the education charity Teach First shows the huge disparity in the quality of schools across the country. The poorest children in London six times more likely to go to outstanding school than those in North, according to their findings.Teach First found that a third (33 per cent) of schools in the poorest parts of the capital are outstanding, compared to one in twenty (five per cent) of schools in the North East.The Government has said that it intends to create 500 more free schools by 2020. However, a Public Accounts Committee report last year warned that in some cases new free schools are being built in areas where there is no demand for extra places, meaning they will do little to dampen the squeeze on places.Last year, 92,810 children failed to secure their first choice school, according to the DfE’s official figures, with 21,937 children failing to secure a place at any of their preferred choice schools.Parents can challenge the decision, but they must build a compelling case and provide evidence to support their arguments, and only around a quarter of appeals for secondary school places are successful.Schools Minister Nick Gibb said: “Since 2010, the government has created 735,000 new school places across the country.“We will continue to build on this by investing £5.8billion to create even more good school places, because we are determined to give parents choice when it comes to their children’s education.” 100,000 pupils are set to miss out on their first choice of secondary school amid higher competition for places, analysis shows.More than half a million families in England will learn which school their child will attend in September, on what is known as “national offer day”. The number of pupils who fail to get a place at their preferred school is due to rise by seven per cent this year, according to analysis by the Good Schools Guide.Their research indicates that one in five children will fail to secure a place at their first choice school, up from around one in six last year.25,000 children will find out that they not got place at any of the secondary schools which their parents listed in their application, their analysis also shows. The demand for places has increased sharply over the past five years, as a bulge in primary school population due to a rise in birth rates passes up into secondary schools. Bernadette John, director of The Good Schools Guide, said that DfE officials have failed to address the problem of insufficient school places, despite the growing numbers of pupils.“It is incredibly stressful for parents when their child is offered a place at a school a long journey from home, or with a damning Ofsted report, or which for very good reasons they have not chosen for their child,” she said.“Too many schools which are not up to scratch and are rejected by parents, resulting in this anguish.”Official forecasts suggest that secondary school pupil numbers will increase by a further 540,000 (19.4 per cent) between 2017 and 2025, meaning competition for places will become even fiercer. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Analysis by the education charity Teach First shows the huge disparity in the quality of schools across the country Families in urban areas are most likely to be affected by the shortfall in places