St Albans Primary Free School gets go-ahead
A LONG-awaited new city-centre primary school is now set to open in September next year and be run by a group of parents and educationalists supported by Herts County Council.
Alban City School, as it will be known, will be located on the current School of Law site on Hatfield Road which the county council agreed to purchase earlier this year.
The building, previously owned and used by the University of Hertfordshire, will be refurbished to provide significant internal and external space which the council says will include spacious and airy classrooms equipped with modern technology, a large gymnasium and school hall. There will also be a well equipped kitchen and attractive dining room serving hot meals at lunch time.
It will accept applications from children of all abilities, faiths, social and cultural backgrounds aged between four and 11 it was revealed this week.
Despite fears voiced earlier this year that local children might not benefit from the school, the county council has announced that the free school will be subject to the same admissions rules as other local authority schools, with the admission process coordinated by the county.
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Initial projections anticipated that the school would be opening, or at least part open, by September this year but the proposal was rejected by the Department for Education in March although the consortium was told that the proposal would be reconsidered next year.
But concerns about the traffic along Hatfield Road with children being dropped off by car still persist. The county has reiterated that parents will be actively discouraged from driving their children to the school, which will have limited drop off space on an already busy road.
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The situation would be exacerbated if plans go ahead to pedestrianise St Peter’s Street which would push additional traffic on to surrounding roads.
A county spokesperson said that the council was talking with the Highways department to identify the impact of the school on the area.
Linda Crawley, the former headteacher of Aboyne Lodge, is leading the group working on the proposal.
She said: “We are delighted to be involved in this wonderful opportunity to establish an outstanding new school in St Albans and address the long standing issue of a lack of city centre primary school places.
“We are very keen to engage with local parents and gain their support for this school and I would urge your readers, particularly those with young children, to visit our website to show their support for this initiative.”
The free school group and the county council are keen to hear from parents and local residents and are inviting them to view the plans and meet the people behind the proposal at a drop in session from 4pm to 7pm next Tuesday, May 10, at the School of Law building. For more information about the school visit www.albancityschool.org.uk