Open letter opposing proposed superschool New!

This open letter from a group of concerned parents was circulated to all parents with children at St Michael's primary school. It outlines the case against the proposed super school.

And now, a letter from concerned parents, presenting the other "facts"

Dear Parents/Friends,

It was of great interest to read the letter distributed yesterday to all of us from the Herts and Essex and The Boys High. However, it seemed also to be more about presenting one view rather than a fair view. Of course, everyone has some bias and this letter writer is no different.

Bishop's Stortford, it could be said, is a leader in secondary school places in both number and quality. Our problem is that under current admission rules, we export so many of these places to areas outside of the town. I am still stunned by the statistic that some 50% of Boys High students travel 5 or more miles each way. Put another way, there may be a need for more school places, but not in Bishop's Stortford. Instead, it seems to make more sense to do a few things out of town (improve Mountfichet High School) and a few things to admission policies in town (including convincing St. Mary's and Hockerill to take more local children). It is rather ironic in these days of expensive fuel and concerns about the environment that so many of our places are exported to children who come from such distances.

We must encourage the Head of Boys High and its governing body to completely reverse their anti-Stortford policy and let in local children. After all, some 74% of Herts & Essex students are from Stortford, and 87% from a combination of Stortford and the close villages.

In other words (to quote Chris Ingate, Head of Birchwood): "There is no case in the short to medium term for a shortage of places for local children. Primary School numbers stand at 700 per year and there are 1000 places in Secondary. There are therefore 300 non-local children being educated. This is, therefore, an issue about admission policies with parents from outside our locality choosing a B/S school over one closer to home (Particularly in Essex)." In addition, /"Alternative, self-financing options at both Leventhorpe and Birchwood would provide a further 60 places if required. Both schools have the land and means to expand by one form of entry with no cost to the environment. They would prioritise places for local children."

So what is happening now? As most of you know, an unprecedented effort was made by the town to defeat the proposals for a super school on the far edge of Thorley.

Many in the town were against the proposals for many reasons – but the export of current school places was certainly one of them. Our children would also be less likely to get a place in the new school as it would be further away. The 700 plus (and probably many more) houses to be built in the old school grounds and on the Fire Station pitches on Hadham Road would mean another secondary school would be needed very soon. So the proposals solve nothing.

If is far from clear if these proposals go ahead how kids will get to school. Many come by train or bus or walk. The new site is just too far outside the centre for many current attendees. We need distribution of schools, not concentration and especially not concentration outside of local transport schemes.

What is the latest, strangest twist? ALL the other secondary schools have come out against it. Can you imagine how difficult it was for them to interfere with other schools' plans? And what do Hockerill, St Mary's, Leventhorpe and Birchwood have in common? Well not a lot! Truly amazing to come up with a proposal so thoroughly silly and unhelpful.

Schools have appealed the rejection of their plans. In the autumn the appeal will be heard. Donations are being urgently sought to help fight this appeal. To donate, please see Stop Schools Move Fund page. Please continue to write letters and campaign. If we win, we will still need to re-engage to help our schools – but they will know of the town's passion for them and will hopefully have learned a bit about how to tap into our energies.

Stefan Sarles, Richard Booth and Jason Gubb