Parents want sea change in house-building rules to fix St Albans school places shortage

PUBLISHED: 15:51 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:51 11 May 2018

The area near St Albans City station where children are struggling to get into any of their parents' chosen schools. Picture: Google.

The area near St Albans City station where children are struggling to get into any of their parents' chosen schools. Picture: Google.

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Parents whose children missed out on places at nearby primary schools want the way homes are built to be reformed so more children do not lose out.

While welcoming the recent expansion of St Peter’s School, parents want a greater focus on how new developments are supported by infrastructure, after their children fell victim to the black hole of school places near to City station.

Christina Blake, who lived 375m away from St Peter’s School, where her son attended nursery, was allocated Margaret Wix Primary School, 4,000m away, as at the time St Peter’s only accepted children from within 242m.

She said: “I went on Facebook and asked if there was anyone else in this position and it appeared to me there was this corridor where people never get into nearby schools.”

Families living in the area around Alma Road, Bedford Road and Alexandra Road complained of not winning a place at any of the four schools they chose.

The problem has been passed down from intake to intake: Alma Road resident Sophie Ashcroft started a Facebook page to collate people’s experiences, and has now passed it on to other parents who have been affected.

She said: “You go through life thinking you can go to the school nearby until you find out people have been struggling for years and have given up.

“People are unaware of how serious the situation is in terms of being allocated a school so far away from where you live.”

Thanks in part to Christina and Sophie pushing for an original decision to be reexamined, Herts County Council has announced it will be expanding St Peter’s School to accommodate thirty more pupils.

While welcoming the new decision, Christina wants a more joined-up approach so the standard of infrastructure matches the level of residential developments: “It’s just unfair they are not able to go to their local school,” she said. “If you are given a choice you expect to have a choice.

“Developers contribute funding towards infrastructure, but there is no land for new schools in St Albans, yet we see all these new developments that will include families.

“It’s really important people come together because change can happen. I think the council have worked really well with us and together we can work together for a really positive outcome.”

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