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The history of Brookmans Park School
by Lilian Caras - First published 1983 (Revised May 2000)

Chapter 3
Conditions in local schools deteriorate

Meanwhile, conditions in the local schools were deteriorating. The number on the roll at Little Heath school in the autumn of 1947 rose to 181 prompting one member of the newly formed Mid-Herts Divisional Executive (Primary) Committee to complain about the overcrowding at Little Heath. "The Divisional Education Officer replied that either a hut would be erected at the side of the school or the senior children would be transferred to the new school in Hatfield". The Committee suggested that the Brookmans Park Primary School, off George's Wood Road, should be included in the 1948 Building Programme.

To this end the Hertfordshire County Council Education (Finance & General Purposes Sub-Committee) again discussed the case for a school in Brookmans Park at their meeting of 2 February 1948. They argued the case as justified on the grounds that: "There is no primary school in Brookmans Park, and the children either attend private schools or travel to Little Heath, Potters Bar, or North Mymms. A house-to-house survey by the School Attendance Officer shows that there are 316 children living in Brookmans Park, of these if a primary school were erected in 1949, 130 would attend: in 1950, 147 would attend: in 1951, 150 would attend: in 1952, 183 would attend." The Committee agreed that Brookmans Park Primary School be included in the Educational Building Programme, 1949.

On 19 April 1948, Mr Newsom, the County Education Officer, wrote again to the Ministry of Education for approval, this time in somewhat impassioned terms. "The appalling conditions in which children are being taught at the moment - a state of affairs which only a Dickens could adequately describe - not only in the County Council schools at Little Wymondly and the C.E. School at Stevenage, but also in an area like Brookmans Park where no maintained school is available and "front parlour" Dame schools have to be resorted to by parents who as ratepayers and taxpayers have been clamouring for a County Council school for many years".

This time more discussion inside the Ministry took place. One memorandum reads: "There is no normal justification for a school at Brookmans Park, and we refused to put it in the S.T. [Short Term] Programme. The justification is that nearly all the children in the area attend private sch'ls at present but would attend a county sch'l if one were built. It is estimated that 150 chi. [children] would attend if the sch'l were built by 1951. We shall need to look very closely into this case but I don't think we can tolerate a situation indefinitely where most of the chi. in an area attend private schools. I think we might tentatively include in the 1949 Programme the Authority's proposal for an instalment of 4 classrooms and Hall".

There were twenty schools on the County Council's list Educational Building Programme 1949. The Ministry personnel discussed other aspects of the request to build. "Experience of the last two years has shown that Herts are capable of handling 11 major projects in one year; it remains to be seen whether we can feed steel to 11 projects... HMI [Her Majesty's Inspector] may wish to suggest revisions in the light of his on-the-spot knowledge". The file is littered with requests from the County Architect for the release of steel to build schools. The County Education Officer also wrote on 8 July 1949 stating that the manufacturer was complaining of the shortage of steel; that it takes from order at the rolling mills 6-9 months for delivery and asking if the Ministry can speed the process up. HMI [Her Majesty's Inspector] replied on 27 May 1948 to the earlier request for on-the-spot information that "HCC can handle more than 11 projects in one year".

The Ministry's decision was that "Hatfield Brookmans Park" should be placed on the Reserve List 1949; no new building could take place although planning procedures should be carried out "to the point at which they can be put in hand without undue delay".


Chapter 4 - Change of site for the new school
Index - The history of Brookmans Park School

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