Fresh hope for St Albans primary places campaigners

CAMPAIGNERS for more primary school places in St Albans have been reassured after a meeting with county council representatives on Monday.

Three members of the action group St Albans Needs More Schools had a long meeting with the county council about every aspect of the primary school situation in the city.

It follows the initial allocation of primary places in the city centre which left 94 children without a place at one of their ranked schools. Many were given places at Margaret Wix or Mandeville Schools, a long way from their homes.

Although the numbers with an unranked place have come down since, the county council’s executive member for education admitted in the Herts Advertiser that it was extremely unlikely the situation could be resolved this summer.

But after the meeting with the county council Ellie Smith, who spearheaded the setting up of St Albans Needs More Schools, said they came away happy the authority was doing all it could to increase the number of places available over the next couple of years.

She admitted that some children would still have to attend non-ranked schools some distance from their homes from September but she and her colleagues felt that plans were in progress to ensure it did not happen again.

Last week the county council announced a radical shake-up at Francis Bacon School in Drakes Drive which, from September 2011, is set to become an “all-through” school for children of all ages.

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It would be one of only around 25 in the country which would take children from as young as three and offer them an “all-through” education until they finished sixth form.

Ellie described the proposal as a “valuable and much needed new enterprise” and commended planners for their innovative thinking and the way they had been looking at new and more effective ways to meet the deficit of places.

She added: “There is still much work to be done and we are not out of the woods yet but from our meeting I am happy to report that the county are doing all that they can to achieve that.”