A 400 year old private school in Monmouth is reported to be objecting to a shopping centre, which will include a McDonalds, being built “near their Agincourt pre-prep school for three to seven-year-olds – whose families pay £2,265 per term“. The argument being put forward by the governors to support this objection is that it will deter parents from sending their young children to the school, which they suggest would potentially have a detrimental impact on the intake of pupils and the schools finances. The governors further argue that the consequences would lead to a loss of teaching staff and a reduction in the quality of education provided to its pupils.
Are these grounds for objection valid?
However, one has to question whether the objections being raised by the school are particularly valid. Taking into account the age of the pupils attending this school, it is considered that the majority, if not all of the children would be driven or accompanied to and from the school grounds. Equally, while in the school it is the responsibility of the teaching staff to ensure that they remain within the grounds at all times. Therefore, it is unlikely that they will come into contact with the new shopping centre during their time at school. More importantly, from submissions received by the planning office in question, it appears that many members of the local community are supportive of the increase in out-of-town shopping centre facility being provided in the propsed development. In some ways it could be said that the development would add convenience for the parents, as they would be able to combine the school run with shopping, thus saving them time and fuel costs.
What is more concerning about the objections being raised is that the primary focus of the governors’ argument is based on the economic impact it will have on the finances and resources available to the school. What is surprising is that, apparently, less focus has been made in the grounds of the objection in relation to the safety and congestion issues related to the proposed development. In the view of this author, it is these concerns that should figure more prominantly in any objection being raised. As it stands, the objections appear to present another example of an educational institution placing profit and financial considerations before the needs of its students.
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