Excluded pupils moving from Hatfield to Potters Bar ‘will not be a problem’

THE county council has responded to residents’ fears over plans to move a centre for excluded pupils in Hatfield to a disused school in Potters Bar.

Residents living close to the defunct Sunny Bank School have expressed concerns surrounding the council’s proposals to relocate The Park Education Support Centre (ESC) at New Barnfield in Hatfield to the infant block of the former Field View Road school site.

But now Tony Mackin, head of education support at Hertfordshire County Council, has sought to assure residents the ESC will not be a disruptive presence to the neighbourhood.

“There is a number of ESCs across the county adjacent to residential neighbourhoods and we’ve never had a problem,” Mr Mackin said.

“While we can never guarantee that no problems will happen, what I would say in terms of the potential risk to the area is it’s not going to be any greater than any other school in my view.”

Mr Mackin said the ESC was graded outstanding at its last Ofsted inspection, and explained the work of an ESC in trying to get students back into school.

“Comparatively few of our pupils are permanently excluded. We aim to intervene early before the situation becomes irretrievable,” he said.

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“A lot of the pupils who attend ESCs are just ordinary kids. You couldn’t pick them out of a crowd.

“They’re not all violent druggies and criminals. They get kicked out because they’re failing at school and it’s showing in their behaviour.

“A major part of our success is being able to work in small groups of pupils. It’s a very difficult for a class in charge of 25 to 30 pupils to pick up on the specific needs of an individual pupil.”

A public consultation on the proposals is open from until January 15.

For more information call 0300 123 4043 or visit www.hertsdirect.org/havesay/consultation