Friday 16 March 2012

St Martin's School

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.

St Martin’s School like most other parish schools was built around 1900. I attended in the 40s/50’s when there were around 35 pupils per class. Understandably there have been considerable alterations since at the cost of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

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.

 St Martin’s has been blessed with its school field which is envied Island wide. Not only does it provide a green lung but it allows space for various sporting activities and a playground without the need to cross the road. I would submit that the school field, which also provides a pitch for the Parish Football Club, is too valuable to be lost to provide a quick fix solution for an unsubstantiated want and not a need.

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.


  1. Keep fighting or it will go the way of the former Grantez, Haut du Marais and Leoville schools here in St Ouen. Did you know even little St Mary used to have both a central school and a south school.

  2. Thanks for the info re St Mary, I was not aware of it.

    There is no danger of the school being demolished as it will be handed back to the Parish who put up most of the building cost over a hundred years. If the Parish uses the School as a Community Centre then the school field should be retained for use by those using the Centre.

    My concern is if there is a proven need to replace the school, will the new one be large enough to meet the anticipated increase in population and is the proposed site, on the existing school field which is also the Parish football pitch, the right location?

  3. Mr. Hill. You seem convinced the population is going to grow but this isn't necessarily the case. Now that Senator Bailhache has been able to scupper the Electoral Commission there is a strong chance people will be fleeing the island in their droves before he gets his wish of an independent Jersey. I put it to you because of Senator Bailhache the population is going to decrease not increase.

  4. "Oh ye of little faith."

    Don't you realise that we are being led into the "Promised Land"

  5. Do you not agree the scuppering of the Electoral commission by Bailhache is going to strike fear into the people of Jersey and force them to flee the island as soon as they find out once the island has become independent there will be no protection from London and Senator Bailhache can inflict his will with even less accountability than there is now?

  6. These are some thoughts (and experiences of mine as I know the school).
    A double entry school will save ESC some overheads- e.g. 1 head and 1 secretary. If they do, then in the longer term, I'd expect to see Trinity School closed at some point. Perhaps they could have a split 1.5 class entry system such as FCJ if ESC would wish to consider such a thing.
    Does the school need to be rebuit? No, although it no longer meets the curriculum e.g the hall is too small, there are portakabin classrooms in KS2 and very few extra rooms like music, reading rooms etc. It certainly looks tired and out-dated.
    I think they'd be better off renovating it as has been done very well in many other schools (like Les Landes). I expect Property Holdings will argue the cost of portakabin classrooms will be too much. So if they go for a new build, putting the school at Maufant makes sense. Would it be good for the parish to have a Community Centre? I'm not so sure it would get fully utilised.

  7. Your comments would best suited to an earlier Blog posting in which I had stated that I did not support Senator Bailhache’s appointment because I support the principle of an independent Commission.

    However I do not support your view that people will leave in droves, but I do believe that the Jersey population will continue to expand therefore consideration must be given to that eventuality when building any school in Jersey. That does not appear to have happened at St Martin.

  8. Re the Comment from the reader who knows the school, somehow the comments are out of sequence.

    Thank you for your considered comments; I note that you do not think there should be a rebuild. I don’t know if consideration has been given to further refurbishment or renovation and that is why I sent the email below to the Minister Patrick Ryan a couple of weeks ago. I have not received a reply, I have sent a reminder but no reply has been received.

    Good Morning Patrick,

    With reference to the possible relocation of St Martin's School.

    A considerable amount of money has been spent on major refurbishment of the School particularly during the past 25 years. In September 1992 Iris Le Fevre opened the Nursery Class and since then further monies has been spent so much so one wonders why it is necessary to build another.

    I would be grateful if you could let me have details of the amount of money spent on refurbishment and maintenance since 1992. Also please could you let me know how much more money needs to spent on St Martin's School before its condition is equal to that of the other Parish Schools which were built around the same time?

    I am sure those details are close to hand and would be grateful if you could forward this email to your Finance Department and the information requested is forwarded to me.

  9. Is Victoria College now fit for purpose?

  10. Tom,
    I don't know. However you will note that in my letter I did raise the issue of how many other classrooms around the Island are now perceived to be smaller then the modern standard guidelines. You can imagine the complaints that would follow if it was decided to rebuild Vicoria College on its School Field.

    1. I also went to St.Martins until 1955. (beatrice jarnet) Very sad to leave. Had average grades but in comparison to what? Teachers very stimulating especially Mr. Gough, Mauger & Duege. I considered my learning as good as secondary UK pupils Good disciple conducive to learning. Education always need updating including buildings etc, but building concrete on field is not good idea.

    2. Good Afternoon Beartice thank you for your comment.

      It is good to hear from you as I don’t think we have met since we both left St Martin’s School as 15 year olds at Christmas 1955. I am absolutely delighted to hear from you and if your ears have been ringing it’s because last Saturday I rode my bike which is the one I am sitting on in my Blog and purchased when I left school in 1955.

      I am in the process of writing a book on St Martin’s lost farms and rode my bike to Les Carrieres where you used to live and mentioned your name along with Rosemary and Reggie to the people who are now living at Les Carrieres.

      I would be really grateful if you could email me on so I can ask how you are getting on and also help me with some information re the Jarnets who used to live at Le Pavillon and Haut du Rue Farms in St Martin.

      On my way to Les Carrieres on Saturday I took some photos of the school field which is now very much a building site as I am minded to write another Blog updating readers on the field’s demise which is disgrace.