St Albans primary hits back at claims of undesirability amid admission cuts consultation

PUBLISHED: 13:19 20 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:34 20 November 2018

Margaret Wix School in St Albans - picture Google Street View

Margaret Wix School in St Albans - picture Google Street View

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The headteacher of a school facing cuts in admissions has hit back at claims that the primary is less desirable than other establishments in the city.

Margaret Wix Primary School.Margaret Wix Primary School.

A consultation on plans to halve pupil entry at Margaret Wix Primary School for September 2020 is currently open to responses.

Herts county council (HCC) say slashing its Published Admission Number (PAN) from 60 to 30 would “ensure the future financial viability/stability of the school”.

However, councillors raised concerns about the sense in decreasing school places when 15,000 houses are planned to be built in the district before 2036 as part of the St Albans Local Plan.

Although initially declining to comment, headteacher Damien Johnston is now disputing that there will be a problem around New Greens, to the north of the city.

He said: “In St Albans city there are sufficient places to meet demand across the forecast period, with surplus spaces predicted year on year. However, there is localised pressure on places, particularly around London Road and the city centre, which the county council is seeking to help mitigate through the expansion of St Peter’s School from September 2020.

“There is a particular concentration of surplus capacity in the north-west where it is forecast there will be more than 1.6 form entry spare places each year. It is therefore proposed that the PAN at Margaret Wix Primary School is reduced by one form entry to manage the amount of surplus in the area and give the school better certainty around staffing and organisation.”

He said all families who applied for Margaret Wix in recent years have secured a place and although last year a number of children moved, that was down to commute times.

Mr Johnston added figures in last week’s Herts Ad are “complex”, as although for September 2018 there were 209 applications for 90 places at nearby Garden Fields JMI School and 34 applications for 60 places at Margaret Wix, these include first to fourth choices and Garden Fields also still have spaces in their reception cohort.

He said: “On November 28 and January 9, Margaret Wix is holding open days to allow prospective parents to see the school in action. We have no doubt they will see how well the school supports and nurtures pupils to strive for and to achieve excellence.”

At its last inspection, Margaret Wix were rated good by Ofsted.

Respond to the consultation at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/admissions2020

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