Crisis for Harperbury Free School as opening postponed again

The former post-graduate centre and library at the former Harperbury hospital site in Radlett

The former post-graduate centre and library at the former Harperbury hospital site in Radlett - Credit: photo supplied

Years of hard work to open a new free school have again been dashed after the project has been left in the lurch by the government - for the second year in a row.

The shelving of Harperbury Free School has devastated its governors and forced over 70 pupils who had accepted places at the school, which was to open its doors in September, to look elsewhere. The governors of Harperbury Free School were promised by Schools Minister Lord Nash that the facility would open in September this year.

A year ago the minister announced the opening had been deferred as his department had failed to secure a site for it.

Then in November last year, the school won its battle to secure a site on land once occupied by the psychiatric hospital of the same name in Harper Lane, on the borders of St Albans and Radlett.

Lord Nash then gave Harperbury Free School Trust the go ahead to submit a planning application for the new secondary school.

The governors were hopeful of securing the use of an existing building in Borehamwood to use as a temporary school, while planning permission was secured for the permanent site.

However, the governors last week issued the following statement: “We are very sorry indeed to have to tell you that we were advised in a telephone call with officials from the Department for Education and the Education Funding Agency that there is now very little likelihood of being able to open our school this September.”

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Parents were told the governors were “devastated by this development” and felt terrible for all the families and children.

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