Wrong culprit

PUBLISHED: 11:05 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:39 06 May 2010

SIR, — I do not think that it is fair to blame the sibling rule for the shortage of primary school places in St Albans city centre (Herts Advertiser, October 16). The problem is that there is no room at the city-centre schools — Maple, St Peters and Aboyn

SIR, - I do not think that it is fair to blame the sibling rule for the shortage of primary school places in St Albans city centre (Herts Advertiser, October 16). The problem is that there is no room at the city-centre schools - Maple, St Peters and Aboyne Lodge - for a permanent expansion to accommodate at least one additional class per year group.

Herts County Council has responded to the increasing demand for primary places by expanding Mandeville and Bernards Heath Schools where there is more space available but which are both outside the city centre. This means that on paper there are sufficient places for the number of children coming up to school age in St Albans across all the schools but not necessarily in the local ones.

Last year St Albans District Council invited County Councillor David Lloyd to come to talk to us about this problem. I suggested that he might care to consider providing primary school places on the Alma Road Youth and Community Centre site - perhaps in conjunction with one of the city-centre schools. However this suggestion was immediately ruled out.

I also suggested that the district council, as planning authority, might identify some potential sites within the city for a new or relocated and enlarged primary school - no response on that one so far.

There have been problems with primary school admissions year on year with children having to travel past their nearest school to another where a place is available. I do not think that this should be used to undermine the sibling rule which allows brothers and sisters to attend the same primary school as alternative arrangements for parents are likely to be very difficult to manage.

What is needed is an acknowledgement that children should be able to walk to primary school and if that means relocation of an existing city-centre school so that it can expand, then we need to focus on finding a site.

CLLR ROMA MILLS,

St Albans District Council.

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