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New School Debate

The following Letters & Comments are the opinions of their signatories and do not reflect the opinions of this web site or its editors.

CLICK HERE to write a letter or make a comment.

For a New School Against a New School
If you are in favour of a new school for Knebworth and the surrounding villages please Click Here for a direct link to the We Need a School web site, where you can sign the petition. Preserve Knebworth have joined forces with Woolmer Green in the fight against a secondary school locally.
Please Click Here to visit their website and sign the petition.
November 2010 to February 2011

Subject: We Need A School campaign to be scaled down - May 2011

We Need A School campaign is to be scaled down as there is no suitable site available.

The We Need A School team has been campaigning since 2009 for a new secondary free school to serve children in the Hertfordshire villages of Knebworth, Woolmer Green, Codicote, Oaklands and Datchworth. We submitted our Outline Business Case to support our proposal in April 2011. Unfortunately, the Department for Education has decided it cannot approve our application at this time, largely because of the difficulties involved in finding a suitable site to host the school.

The site issue has always been difficult. We’ve had no desire to destroy beautiful views or countryside and have always listened to people’s concerns. We’ve explored every option in the catchment area in an attempt to secure a brownfield site. Sadly, none has become available. We also looked at some greenbelt sites, which were mainly infill or other non-productive areas rather than agricultural land, but have been warned that the time, complexity and cost of a planning application for one of these could be excessive and make the project non-viable. Furthermore, despite earlier positive indications, the DfE has now made it clear it won’t support a greenbelt application. We assume the change of mind has something to do with government finances, although this was not stated.

Otherwise, our business case was compelling. Our vision of a village secondary school, run by and serving our rural community, and the imaginative teaching structure we had devised, were particularly commended. Sufficient demand for the school was overwhelmingly proved, with 83% of more than 350 parents contacted in an independent survey saying they would choose it for their children. This was on top of many hundreds of registrations of interest in sending children to the school and a petition supporting our ideas containing over 1000 names. We are in no doubt that we did the right thing by exploring our ideas as far as possible, for the simple reason that the current secondary school options for village children are unacceptable to the vast majority of parents and others in our community.

Obviously we are disappointed the business case hasn’t been approved and know that many local people will share our feelings. The We Need A School team will now scale down its campaign in the hope that a brownfield site does become available. We will also continue to lobby for better options and larger quotas for village children in the existing available schools. We note how substantially admissions have improved for village children since our campaign began, so we will keep pressuring the authorities so that our children continue to be treated fairly. Please do write to your local MP and county council to support our cause.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported our campaign and especially the many people who have rolled up their sleeves to help.

The We Need A School Team

Subject: Are you in Favour of a new school? - 14th May 2011

Are you in favour of a secondary school being built within one and half miles of the centre of Knebworth? That's the question Knebworth Parish Council is asking us. The We Need a School group has obtained permission to make a business case to build a Free (out of the State system) School somewhere within that radius, or possibly a little further away. The Parish Council wants to know what we think. Survey slips are available from the Library, village news, Station Road or the Corener Store, Stockens Green until 21 May. You can post completed slips in the Village Hall letterbox.

Jo Simson

Subject: New School Discussion - 14th February 2011

In April 2007 the Knebworth Parish Plan was issued to us all, including a thorough survey of the village's response to many questions. Among these was the possibility of a secondary school. 10% were in favour, 27% against, with 63% offering no opinion.

In September 2009 a meeting was held to consider the WNAS plan to build a school here on green belt land. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report in the Comet was headlined "Villagers oppose school proposal", and the first paragraph read "Residents have come out in force to voice their opposition to plans to build a secondary school in their village."

Further meetings both here and in Woolmer Green continue to show strong opposition. Can I please ask WNAS the admittedly well-worn question "What part of the word 'No' do you not understand?".

I am also concerned, at a time when Government finances are so stretched, that their proposal would take many millions to fund, money which could be more effectively and fairly spent on other free schools making sensible use of existing premises after renovation, enhancement or extension.

Geoff Booth

Subject: New School - Campaign group meeting - 8th February 2011

Woolmer Green residents have been advised by their Parish Council that none of the WNAS campaign group will now be attending the planned meeting at Woolmer Green Village Hall on 9th February at 7.30pm. This is a great shame since residents of Woolmer Green were expecting a proper presentation from both sides of the argument. Gives serious cause for concern over the nature of the campaign group and its approach.

Howard Bryant

Subject: What happens to your choice of schools? - 5th February 2011

I have lived in Knebworth for many years, sending both my children to the village primary school, then on to secondary schools in Stevenage, when I was given a choice of schools. Surely, if there is a new Knebworth Secondary School, there will no longer be a choice of where your children go for their secondary education so, good school or bad school, all children from the Knebworth catchment area, will have to attend it.


Subject: The community can only benefit from a new school - 5th February 2011

Because I care about the community and also have a school age child (not at the local school) I have looked into this proposal in some depth and with a slightly cynical approach. If I took as gospel the "supposed" facts about the proposal I would not be in favour of the project. However, having actually taken the time to investigate and therby be in a position to make an informed decision should I ever be asked, my view has changed somewhat.

There are SO many untruths being written about the school proposal I worry that people are being completely misled with regards to the size, location, teaching standards and the true NEED for this school. Not only could the village children benefit from this plan but the wider community will to.

All I urge people to do is to read the facts on www.weneedaschool.org versus the fiction/innacurate, statements being quoted by the (very noisy) minority opposed to the proposal. I am not part of the campaign but have been truly shocked by the underhand tactics of a few.

There may indeed be some minor negatives or flaws in the plan but overall the benefit to the community will far outweigh these,n my opinion. I "grilled" one of the founding group today and their attitude, passion and knowledge, combined with the desire for inclusivity and benefit to the community was commendable.

"Dirty tricks" and the spreading of incorrect and verging on libellous statements by the "NIMBYs" will not help our community in any way.


Subject: We do not need a new school - 29th January 2011

We do not need, or want, a secondary school in Knebworth or Woolmer Green. We need to keep the countryside around us for our children and grandchildren. I have lived in Knebworth all my life and have watched Knebworth get busier each year. Anyone who has driven through Knebworth village, especially at a busy time of day such as the school run, knows how difficult it is to get through. Knebworth and Woolmer Green would be ten times worse than this if there was a secondary school. It is laughable to think that the children would all walk to school, especially if the weather was bad. No, parents would be driving them there and clogging up all the little side roads as well as London Road. The same thing would be happening when school was over. Ask the people who live near schools in Stevenage what they think of where they live in relation to school run times. I am sure they dread them and they have wider roads, built for more traffic.

No, we do NOT need a secondary school in any of the villages. Let them be built in larger towns and allow the children to get out of the villages for a while and see how lucky they are to live where they do.

Wendy Marley

Subject: Preserve Knebworth against a new school - 2nd November 2010

For anyone reading this, who are not aware, there is also a group in the villages that are against a secondary school being built. For anyone wishing to join, please email preserveknebworth@hotmail.co.uk

Kay Bond

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