Parent's fears after class size doubles

A PARENT has voiced his concern after a computer error has resulted in an over allocation of places in a primary school.

A PARENT has voiced his concern after a computer error has resulted in an over allocation of places in a primary school.

Stephen Martin, of Great Gables, Stevenage, spoke to The Comet after learning that his four-year-old son, Matthew, is to be put in a reception class at Round Diamond School of 30 - double the intended size.

Parents have been informed that children starting at reception in September will be in one class of 30 instead of two of 15, a situation which has arisen following a mistake by Hertfordshire County Council when too many reception places were allocated at the school in September 2009.

In order to meet the legal requirements, an extra qualified teacher will now teach in Year 1 instead of reception to compensate for the extra children, leaving the Whitehorse Lane-based school with no choice but to have one large class.

Round Diamond have asked the council for funding for extra staff so class sizes can remain as normal, although so far they have been unsuccessful.

Mr Martin said: “It just seems unfair that their education is going to be affected because of an error.”

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Headteacher Deborah Godbald said: “The local authority should have a contingency for funding their errors because at the moment the children in this school are paying the price.”

A parent and a governor at the school, Charlotte Reynolds, added: “It’s definitely having a negative effect on the children.

“The response we have had has not been acceptable and there has been no appreciation of the extra pressures it’s putting on the school and the teachers in class.”

Justin Donovan, deputy director of children, schools and families at Hertfordshire County Council, responding to a letter from Mr Martin, said: “I understand the concerns you have raised over the over allocation of children to Round Diamond School.

“Unfortunately, local authorities no longer have the freedom over the way in which school funding can be allocated to individual schools.”

A council spokesman added: “We are seeing increases in the population of primary aged children living around Round Diamond and in the north of Stevenage generally and our pupil forecasts indicate that demand for reception places will continue to increase.

“To meet this growth in demand, the county council has added an additional 30 reception places at Martins Wood Primary School for September 2011 and we are looking at other options in the north of Stevenage to provide sufficient reception places to meet forecast demand in future years.”

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