CONCERNS have been raised by primary schools in St Albans over the radical changes to Francis Bacon School.
In consultation responses over the closure of the Drakes Drive school, which will re-open as the Samuel Ryder Academy, headteachers fear an all through school could have a detrimental impact on their schools' admissions.
Councillor Ian Orton, chairman of London Colney Parish Council, said in his response: “An academy that will take pupils from the age of three has raised concerns within London Colney, that the three primary schools maybe be ‘at risk’ and while the parish council supports the concept of an academy, one would not like to see any of the primary schools closed to make way for the academy.”
The governing body’s comments at London Colney Primary School, in Alexander Road, also echo the views of Mr Orton.
Governors at Windermere Primary School, in Windermere Avenue, St Albans, said in their response: “The success and well-being of our children could be jeopardised by the creation of the new rival school under a mile away.
“Our school is currently and has been historically under subscribed. We question the need for more school places in this location.”
About two years ago Francis Bacon was identified as being an underperforming school, and was put in ‘special measures’.
As a result of this many parents within the catchment area refused to send their children there.
The school rapidly made improvements, but admissions have remained low. It is hoped the new academy will support the school’s efforts in changing its bad perception.
However MP Anne Main has spoken out in favour of the new academy, which has been named after one of St Albans’ most famous sons, Samuel Ryder.
She said: “I agree with the proposal, and hope that action will be taken to re-brand and re-name the school, as I feel it is vital that all the negative associations which currently surround the school are removed."
Mrs Main added: “Francis Bacon has been an under-performing school, trailing others in our area for too long, and causing problems for local families who feel they have little choice in school places.”
The majority of respondents were in favour of the proposals, with just ten per cent opposed.
The academy is expected to open next September.