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Harpenden Secondary School Update

We have today received the following press release from David Williams, Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Education and Skills, Hertfordshire County Council:

 

The Harpenden Secondary Education Trust has today informed the Department of Education that it is requesting a deferral of the opening of the Harpenden Secondary Free School to September 2018. It is with deep regret that this decision has been made.

The project was approved by the Department in May 2014 with the Trust’s project partners, Herts County Council, the DfE and the Education Funding Agency (EFA) responsible for delivering the land, financing and building the school. The county council was asked to acquire the site in March 2015 and contracts were exchanged on land adjacent to Common Lane in January 2016.

It is always very difficult at the start of such a big project to set timescales because there are so many unknowns and some aspects of the project have taken longer than anticipated. Regrettably this has meant that the timeline to open in temporary accommodation on a permanent site with full planning permission cannot be met.

The partners have wrestled with the timeline in order to meet the 2017 date as we realize that the school is of vital importance to families with children who live in the local area. However, having taken the advice of the EFA, the Trust reluctantly accept that this is no longer viable.

The request for deferral has yet to be approved by the Minister at the DfE. The timeline for 2018 opening would see the school opening with much of the full permanent structure completed but deferral allows more time to procure a contractor and to achieve planning consent to build the school.

The Trust remains fully committed to the opening of this school as the need for additional secondary school places in the area intensifies and the existing schools cannot expand. Once the Minister has made a decision, a timeline for 2018 opening will be published on our website.

Philip Waters, Chair of the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust said:

‘Whilst we regret very much the unavoidable delay to the planned opening date of the school, the overwhelming priority of the Trust remains to ensure that the school opens on its permanent site in order to serve the long term needs of Harpenden and its surrounding community. ‘

The Head teachers of Roundwood Park, Sir John Lawes and St Georges added:

“Whilst we are naturally disappointed that the opening of the new school has had to be put back, we will continue to work together to develop the Trust’s vision of a school which provides the very highest quality of education and opportunity for all its students.’

The Trust fully supports the efforts of our partners to deliver this project and remains committed and ready to deliver on all the educational aspects required to establish a new school that will enhance the quality of education available to the local community, providing structures and support for all students to fulfill their potential.

The county council has arrangements in place to ensure there are enough school places in the surrounding areas to meet local requirements, in the interim period until the new school opens.

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