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Long-term solution required for primary school provision in central St Albans
Petition has closed and a response from the council has been published.

urgently address the severe lack of primary school places for children in central St Albans. 


School allocations data for September 2016 showed that 63 children in St Albans did not get any of their four ranked choices and many have instead been offered a school which is miles from their homes (9 at Bowmansgreen, 12 at London Colney, 40 at Margaret Wix and 2 at Sandridge).


Under-provision in the central area is currently:

• Pulling our communities apart by sending a large number of children outside of their local area for schooling
• Making St Albans a less attractive location for families to bring up children
• Adding to the already congested rush hour traffic with associated environmental effects 
• Making living in core commuter territory untenable for those with young families


This under-provision can only be exacerbated by the continuing building development in the area, most of which cannot be contested by our local councillors on the grounds of it being converted from office to residential property.


Specifically, there is a corridor around St Albans City station and to the immediate south where children had no chance of getting into their nearest school, St Peter’s.


While the council has since announced a bulge year at Maple school, we are extremely concerned that it will not resolve the issue. All it does is expand the Maple net into roads which are already very well served by good schools (2-3 catchments) and gives those families with a choice even more choice.  The school places for these families will shuffle around between Alban CityBernards Heath, Garden Fields and Maple, and those in the roads south of London Road and towards the station will remain at the bottom of the list due to distance and sibling criteria.

 

In the short term, we propose an additional bulge class to fulfil the specific demand for schools in this area.


In the long term are proposals are

1. Permanent expansion of an existing local school to accommodate the children (both now and in the future) who are currently not served by any school.

2. Creation of a brand new school to support the growing local community.


This should be top of the agenda given Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent comments that new laws overhauling public services will give parents the legal right to choose the best school for their children. 


We urge the council to re-evaluate the allocation of extra places for the long term benefit of all St Albans residents.



 

 



Not Specified
Tuesday, 26 April 2016
Saturday, 25 February 2017
Permanent Expansion for Reception Places in Central St Albans Facebook parent action group
This petition currently has 479 signatures in total.
Petition Signatories
479 electronic signatures
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Page 1 of 48, signatures 1 to 10
Karin Adams
Michelle Adcock
John Adcock
Jenny Allchorn
Susie Arbeid
Mark Arbeid
Katy Arnold
Lukas Arpino
Gary Arpino
Sophie Ashcroft
This petition has been reviewed and the following response has been offered:
1.1. The issue of primary school places is taken very seriously and the county council is committed to ensuring that it meets the rising demand. In response to 10,000 more children under the age of four in Hertfordshire today than a decade ago, it is has spent more than £200m providing additional places across the county. 1.2. In St Albans, an additional nine forms of entry (equivalent to 270 extra permanent reception places each year) have been created since 2008 ensuring there are sufficient places for every child who needs one. This has included a new 2FE primary school (Alban City), providing additional capacity for the city centre, and a 2FE primary phase at Samuel Ryder Academy, both opening in 2012. 1.3. It is recognised that there is a concentration of demand in and around the city centre. However, identified expansion capacity is extremely limited, with town planning and/or highways issues making permanent expansion undeliverable on many sites. Therefore additional permanent places have, of necessity, been provided in the wider area. Expansions including those at Garden Fields, Bernard’s Heath and Prae Wood schools have all provided additional high-quality places for St Albans families. 2. 2016 Primary Allocations 2.1. On allocation day 2016, every St Albans applicant was offered a place. However, while there were sufficient places across the wider area, it was recognised that there were clusters of pupils in and around the city centre that were not allocated a school in the immediate area. 2.2. To help ease this pressure and support families in the city centre to secure places as close to home as possible for September 2016, an additional 30 reception places were made available at Maple Primary School; a popular and outstanding school in the city centre. 2.3. As a result, the number of children allocated a school over the 2 mile statutory distance decreased during the ‘continuing interest’ process and at the start of autumn term 2016 there were almost 2 forms of entry (60 reception places) available across St Albans City. 3. Meeting the Future Demand 3.1. The latest reception place forecast indicates that in the short term there are sufficient places across St Albans City. The table below shows the latest Summer 2015/16 forecast for the area. 3.2. The forecast indicates that there are surplus places across the period, with lower levels of demand forecast beyond 2017/18. It is recognised, however, that there continue to be areas that have a high concentration of demand within the city centre, particularly in light of the significant developments in St Albans City and around London Road. As such pupil numbers will continue to be monitored. Officers will work with local schools in and around the city centre to discuss temporary expansion, should it be required. 3.3. While in the shorter term there are sufficient places available, longer term projections suggest primary pupil numbers will continue to rise. St Albans City and District Council (SADC) Strategic Local Plan (SLP) proposes over 9,000 dwellings across its plan period to 2031, of which over 5,000 are currently expected to be in St Albans. 3.4. Creating permanent school places to meet rising pupil numbers is not always straight forward and the county council must work within the constraints that already exist in relation to many school sites. As part of the county council’s annual primary expansion programme and ongoing representations to districts on local plan infrastructure needs, feasibility work is continually refreshed to assess potential options to permanently expand schools. Currently, detailed feasibility work is being carried out on the capacity of St Peter’s Primary School to expand permanently, which is scheduled to be completed in the autumn term 2016. If expansion is deemed deliverable, any proposal to provide additional permanent reception places will need to be considered in the wider context of demand and capacity within the City as well as the overall expansion programme. 3.5. In the longer term, given the limitations on existing school sites and the level of proposed new housing, further growth in pupil numbers in St Albans is likely to need to be supported through the provision of new schools. The county council has for a number of years made, and continues to make, representations to SADC, to ensure appropriate provision is made within the Local Plan to support growing pupil numbers and new housing development in the City. This includes identifying new school sites, especially in areas where there is little or no potential to expand existing schools such as in and around the city centre. 3.6. The recently published SADC SLP recognises the need for additional primary school capacity in central St Albans, to be delivered in the form of new 2 f.e. and 3 f.e. primary schools. The county council will continue to work with SADC to identify and promote suitable schools sites to ensure that every child can be offered a place. In September 2016, County Councillor David Williams, Member for Enterprise, Education and Skills, together with Officers, attended SADC Planning Policy Committee to present and reiterate the need for new school sites, particularly to serve the city centre, to enable future school place demand to be met. 3.7. The next step is for SADC to produce a Detailed Local Plan (DLP) for public consultation, currently expected in late 2016. In the meantime Officers will continue to work with SADC to help ensure education provision is made through the local plan, including the identification of new school sites within the DLP. 4. Summary 4.1. The issues raised in this petition are recognised and understood. Officers have also met with members of the Central St Albans Facebook Parent Action Group to better understand their concerns, discuss their suggestions and answer questions on what action the county council is taking to secure future city centre education provision in St Albans. 4.2. This includes monitoring pupil numbers in and around the City, refreshing feasibility work on the expansion potential of schools, continuing to work with SADC and making representations to the Local Plan to ensure that new education provision can be brought forward to meet the growth in pupil numbers arising from development proposed.
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22/06/2017 16:55 Deborah Jeffery Response PublishedResponse Published
22/06/2017 16:52 Deborah Jeffery Response SubmittedResponse Published
22/06/2017 16:47 Deborah Jeffery Approver Allocated: No ApproverResponse Pending
28/02/2017 13:47 Deborah Jeffery Response ApprovedResponse Published
28/02/2017 13:39 Deborah Jeffery  Response Awaiting Approval
22/02/2017 13:02 Deborah Jeffery Response PublishedResponse Published
22/02/2017 13:01 Deborah Jeffery Response ApprovedResponse Published
22/02/2017 12:59 Deborah Jeffery  Response Awaiting Approval
21/02/2017 16:35 Deborah Jeffery Petition Updated: Responder Changed to Deborah Jeffery .Approver Changed to Deborah Jeffery Petition Active
02/09/2016 00:49(System Event)Petition Closed (responder emailed requesting response)Response Pending