Education bosses to create extra Harpenden primary school places

HIGH demand for primary school places in Harpenden has prompted education chiefs to expand an existing school.

The Herts Advertiser revealed last week that Herts County Council (HCC) was understood to be looking into adding an additional 30 places at Sauncey Wood despite there being a bigger demand for places at St Dominic and The Grove.

While the local authority refused to comment on whether or not it would be expanding any schools last Wednesday, HCC went on to admit two days later that it had been looking into expanding Sauncey Wood but that there had been a change of plan in light of a reduced demand for places due to the continuing interest process.

It is now planning to add 15 places at The Grove which already has enough classroom space to accommodate the additional pupils.

When the allocations were announced there were 47 children left without a school place of choice in Harpenden and while that number has now reduced to 35, it is still nearly four times what it was after the applications were first processed last year.

As reported last week, local mum Jane Thomas accused education bosses of failing to plan for the large number of applications which local headteachers had allegedly predicted due to the high birth rates between 2005 and 2006. She launched a petition calling on HCC to add either 30 extra places at St Dominic or 15 at The Grove.

Richard Thake, executive member for education and skills, said: “I would like to thank the headteachers and boards of governors at both Sauncey Wood and The Grove Infant School, who have done all they can to assist us to place Harpenden primary school pupils in local community schools.”