Safety fears dismissed at new St Albans free school

PARENTS have come to the defence of a new free school in St Albans following criticism that ongoing building work is compromising the safety of its pupils.

Alban City School, based in Hatfield Road, opened it doors nearly four weeks ago to their first intake of children aged four and five.

But the fact construction work is still in progress to transform the site, which will eventually house 420 pupils, has prompted concerns it should not have opened until the refurbishment was finished.

But parents have rushed to challenge the claims and praised the primary school for taking the safety of its pupils “incredibly seriously”.

One parent, Carmel Kilcline, said: “The apparent facts to me are that the school has opened on time and on budget, which is far more than can be said for many across the country.

“It has been overseen and approved, in glowing terms, by Ofsted at every stage of the process and its staff and governing body of course take the safety of its children incredibly seriously. The children’s wellbeing and success are its purpose and its lifeblood.

“The new school is a major asset to this city. It has been a hard-won success, and the good news, for all residents, is that it is now here to stay. It should be cheered not jeered.”

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The state-funded school, which was created to provide more primary school places in St Albans, took over the former University of Herts School of Law site.

The first phase of construction work was completed in time for the opening in September but the second phase, which was always planned to go on until Christmas, is still underway.

This includes installing toilets and classrooms on the unoccupied first floor. However, last week scaffolding was taken down which was protecting the school while the roof was being replaced.

Another mum, Louise Burgis, commented: “The school building isn’t pretty but the interior space is perfect. Although it is a work in progress, the children don’t see that. The spaces they use are safe and clean, bright and spacious, and tailor-made for their activities.

“The level of care and attention is excellent. The teachers and the equipment are of the highest standards, and already we have developed an enormous sense of pride in the school.”

She added: “Alban City School has been and will continue to be closely scrutinised, and there are no objections to that.”

Headteacher Janet Goddard said: “We have worked in conjunction with construction workers, and the building was risk assessed to ensure it was ready for opening and it was safe for children and all was in order. We are confident it is safe and Ofsted agree with that.”