Funding finally approved for new Harpenden secondary school
PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 October 2016
Full funding has been approved for a new secondary school in Harpenden and the opening date of September 2018 has now been confirmed.
Approval from the Department for Education (DfE) on both the funding of the new school and its deferred opening date has put an end to concerns about the future of the long-awaited new school which will be built on farmland on the corner of Lower Luton Road and Common Lane.
Both Herts county council and the Harpenden Secondary Free School Trust, a partnership of local education providers and specialists, confirmed the go-ahead from the DfE yesterday which followed a review of the costs and timescale for the project.
Individually they described it as a ‘key milestone’ in the process of opening a new secondary school in the town where the three existing schools are very over-subscribed.
Harpenden county councillor David Williams, who is also the county’s cabinet member for education, described himself as ‘thrilled’ that the opening of the new school was another step closer.
He went on: “I know some parents may be disappointed the opening is going to be a year later than originally hoped but I’d like to give reassurance that we had already prepared for this scenario and made arrangements with other local schools to accommodate additional pupils if needed.
“There are a lot of things that all need to come together before the new school can open but all parties are committed to making this happen in the quickest possible timescales. Now that these key decisions have been made, the Trust and the EFA [Education Funding Authority] can progress the next stages of their programme.”
Philip Waters, chair of the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust, said; “We are delighted that these decisions have now finally been taken and we can move
on to the practical stages of the programme for opening the new school given the delays to the decision on funding and deferral encountered.
“We would also like to take the opportunity to thank both the Harpenden Parents Group and the Harpenden community for their patience and continued support.”
Originally it had been hoped that the new school would open in September 2017 but earlier this year it became clear that it would have to be put back because some aspects of the project had taken longer than anticipated.
In the period until the new school opens, the county council is proposing to expand existing schools in St Albans.