SIR, — Your newspaper and correspondents have rightly given much coverage to the problems of secondary school transfers over the past few weeks. You have highlighted the problems in particular areas such as Wheathampstead and Colney Heath and there have b
SIR, - Your newspaper and correspondents have rightly given much coverage to the problems of secondary school transfers over the past few weeks. You have highlighted the problems in particular areas such as Wheathampstead and Colney Heath and there have been complaints about the number of places in schools in St Albans and Harpenden for pupils from outside the district. I think it may be of interest to your readers to point out that there are nearby places which have far greater problems in finding secondary school places for their children and these create knock-on effects felt in St Albans.
This year only 51 per cent of applicants from Radlett got their first choice (compared to 69 per cent in Wheathampstead and 66 per cent in Colney Heath) and overall only 71 per cent got one of their three choices (83 per cent in Wheathampstead and 86 per cent in Colney Heath).
Radlett has no secondary school and entry to the nearest schools in Bushey and Watford is by an entrance exam (11-plus in all but name) open to anyone from Herts or elsewhere. As a consequence, children from Radlett attend over 30 different secondary schools in Bushey, Watford, Garston, St Albans, Harpenden, Potters Bar, Borehamwood and various North London boroughs.
We have more than 20 school buses plus mini-buses and numerous private cars taking and fetching children to and from schools every day, making a mockery of the county's supposed commitment to environmentally-friendly, walking-to-school plans.
The obvious answer - to parents anyway - is that we should have our own local secondary school as was planned in the 1970s but then abandoned. But the county council insists that we, and other smaller places like Wheathampstead, are too small as all schools must have at least five-form entry (ie 150 per year).
I doubt that many of the county councillors at Hertford went to this kind of school with 1,000-plus pupils as this is a development that has occurred in the past 20 years as schools have been enlarged rather than building any new ones. I would think smaller schools in the smaller towns around Herts would work well for their local communities and would also take the pressure off the schools in the nearest larger towns - and city of course.
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I have some hope that sense will eventually prevail. This year the number of applications to secondary schools from Radlett and nearby Shenley (also without a secondary school) totalled 161 - above the magic 150 figure. The Government's "Building Schools for the Future" programme is now under way in Herts and the precedent of building new schools rather than just rebuilding existing ones has already been set in Stevenage.
A new secondary school for Radlett and Shenley would be greatly welcomed by local residents and we in Radlett might even find something for which we can be grateful to Herts County Council.
Woodfield Road, Radlett.