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Ministers to be asked to approve St Helier school

Jersey’s education minister still wants to build a new primary school in St Helier, but will ask fellow ministers to re-approve the plans after criticism of the project, he says.

The previous States Assembly agreed to build a new school near Millennium Park, on a site that was formerly used by Jersey Gas; to close St Luke’s and Springfield Schools, and to extend Rouge Bouillon. Some critics of the project said the falling birth-rate meant there was no longer a need for a new primary school in the town.

Recent government figures show the number of babies born in Jersey last year dropped to below 800 for the first time since 1976.

Rob Ward, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, said a new school at Gas Place was still needed. He said: “We need a new town school that will replace Springfield and St Luke's. Those two schools certainly need replacing. “They don't have enough space for our children in those schools. [They need] Enough play space, enough movement space, enough break out space for modern education.”

The Constable of St Helier, Simon Crowcroft, recently called to build an indoor skate park on the former Gas Place site instead of a new school. He said: “Does it really make sense to knock down existing primary schools and spend £40m building a new one?

“I don't think a quality education is the same thing as a brand new building costing £40m.”

Marina Mauger, from the NASUWT teachers’ union, claimed some teachers could be put off working in Jersey if class sizes increased as a result of building new homes in St Helier.

She said: “We've already got recruitment challenges because people can't afford to live in Jersey. "Teachers’ salaries are just not good enough and huge class sizes would certainly put people off."

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