A Law on primary instruction was approved by the States in January 1894 which placed a burden upon the parishes to provide an establishment for education. Three years later on 12th February at an Assembly for St Martin Parishioners, by 22 votes to 12 they agreed to form a committee to look for a suitable site for the Parish School.
In May that year the Parish agreed to buy 3 vergees of land at the cost of £153 plus the cost of erecting a wall which is still standing today. It was to be another two and a half years before the foundation stone was laid. The delay was due to differing opinions as to the design and cost.
The School opened its doors on 1st October 1900 with the first 59 pupils attending all of whom would have walked from the 4 corners of the parish. Unfortunately work on the school had not been completed in time so for the first two weeks lessons were taken in the Public Hall.
St Martin's like the other schools which were built around the same time is still standing. Over the course of time the outside toilets and coal fires have been replaced and internally very little is recognisable from my day. Vast sums of money has been spent on modernising the School and no doubt as it is wind and water tight there is no reason why the building will not last for another 100 years.
The School roll has fluctuated over the years. In 1947 when it was an elementary school and when pupils from the Home for Boys began attending there were 309 pupils on roll, this led to a hut being erected to accommodate what was to be class 2 in my day. This was to be Mr Dugue's class for almost 25 years. Children were never turned away and there were times when some classes had up to 40 pupils. In 1982 the roll was down to 89. Today it is a primary school, it is oversubscribed and because of teacher/pupil ratio policies only around 210 pupils can be accommodated.
When schools are constructed today there are guidelines stipulating space standards, however just because some classes in existing schools may not be of the size to meet modern guidelines I submit that it does not mean that they should close. If that is the case then most of the schools built at the turn of the century will have to be replaced.
I do not want to inflict any hardship on teachers or their pupils but if conditions dictate that a particular school is so crampt that it cannot function, then by all means replace it. However if it is to be replaced then like the wise parishioners of a hundred years ago, there should be proper consultation with all the options considered before constructing a building which will meet the needs of any ever increasing population.
I believe there has been an indecent rush to replace St Martin's School but will willingly give my support for it to be replaced provided all the boxes have been ticked before the decision to vacate is made. What is being proposed has all the hallmarks of spend today but regret tomorrow approach.
Although funding has been made available clearly there has not been adequate consultation, this has led to the current Planning Minister Deputy Rob Duhamel wisely calling a halt to the proceedings until the public and interested parties have been consulted. Members of the public have been invited to view the proposed plans and model and to submit their comments. The following is my submission which has also been published in today's Jersey Evening Post.
The proposed plan for
St Martin’s School must rank as one of the poorest ever drafted and Deputy Duhamel is to be complimented for seeking the public’s views.
The reason given for replacing the school is that its facilities are well below the minimum modern education space standards, however on reading the Planning Brief Appendix it appears that the requirements are guidelines and are not statutory. If
St Martin’s facilities are well below the minimum modern education space standards one may ask how the space at St Martin’s compares with other schools built around 1900 and will those schools have to be replaced?
Not only has there been no public consultation but it is doubtful whether any thought has been given as to whether the new build will meet the anticipated rise in population in the next 50 plus years. It is proposed to build for a single form entry however it is a known fact that every year
St Martin’s is oversubscribed with children being referred to surrounding schools. Has consideration been given for a two form entry school?
Having seen the plans for proposed new school it is apparent that the easy option has been taken to build on the School Field with little thought being given to the loss of a valued amenity. It is also apparent that the proposed recreational facilities will fall far short of the requirements with children having to cross the road to make use of the Village Green. It will also see the loss of the longstanding Parish Football Pitch.
If the present School’s space facilities are so outdated that it must be replaced then the proposed build on the School field is a non starter. It is not large enough to cater for teacher or visitor parking and will not meet recreational needs. I submit that if a new school is required then it should be built away from the present location and be a two form entry to meet the anticipated population increase and be nearer to high density areas such as Maufant but definitely not at St Saviour’s Hospital.
Should readers wish to submit their comments they are asked to do so without delay.