Pupils face four bus rides to get to new Hatfield school

PUPILS in a village are facing a nightmare journey to and from their new high school – eight bus rides or a 90-minute walk EVERY day.

Eight children in Colney Heath have been allocated a place at Onslow St Audrey’s School in Hatfield, when the new academic year starts in September.

But parents have been left fuming as the journey will involve four bus rides or a 45-minute walk.

The route from Colney Heath to the Hatfield school was even deemed “illogical” in an appeal panel ruling in 2008.

Lisa Chaplin’s 10-year-old son Cameron is one of the youngsters affected.

His chosen schools were Marlborough or Sandringham in St Albans, or Dame Alice Owen’s in Potters Bar.

But the trip to Onslow will mean Cameron has to leave at 7.10am.

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This would make the day “massively long and tiring” according to Mrs Chaplin, who spoke on behalf of all the affected families.

And the mum-of-four warned the problem had the potential to tear the close village community apart.

She said: “Parents in the playground are saying they are going to have to sell up and move because of this.

“But the community should not be ripped apart because we can’t get our children into the schools we have asked for.”

Colney Heath district and county councillor Chris Brazier said to get to school, pupils would need to catch a bus from the village to Smallford, then another to the city centre, a third to Hatfield, and then a fourth to Onslow.

And, due to the time of the return service in the evening, pupils would miss after-school clubs and sporting activities.

He said: “Just under a third of the class at Colney Heath JMI have not got into one of their ranked schools.

“The county council is trumpeting 95 per cent of children in the St Albans district have got a ranked place, but outside St Albans the villages are being penalised.

“The council continues to fail the children in Colney Heath.”

A county council spokeswoman said: “The distance from Colney Heath to Onslow St Audrey’s is under the statutory three miles so parents are not entitled to transport provision.

“The route has been checked and confirmed as part of the designated route for allocation purposes. A safety assessment was also undertaken, and it was found to be a safe walking route, accompanied as necessary by an adult.”