New Harpenden secondary school defers opening

Farmland bordering Lower Luton Road in Batford on which Herts county council wants to build Katherin

Farmland bordering Lower Luton Road in Batford on which Herts county council wants to build Katherine Warington School. - Credit: Archant

Katherine Warington School, which was due to open in September this year, has deferred opening until 2019.

Tony Smith will be the headteacher of Katherine Warington School.

Tony Smith will be the headteacher of Katherine Warington School. - Credit: Archant

The school was set to open on farmland bordering Lower Luton Road in Batford for the 2018/2019 school year, with Tony Smith, the current deputy head at Roundwood Park, as headteacher.

However the Department for Education and Education Skills Funding Agency has announced that it will not be possible to open a temporary school within that timeframe.

A statement from the department said: “Following notice of the planning decision on 15 March 2018, we have re-evaluated whether it is possible to still open in September 2018.

“We have determined that delivery of a temporary school within the sports hall on the permanent site is no longer possible within the timescales available, and the opening date will be rescheduled.

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“Alternative options have been assessed, but the constraints of the planning conditions and the requirement to level the site would compromise the programme of works for completion of the main school buildings for the 2019/20 academic year.

“We will continue to work closely with both the trust and Hertfordshire County Council towards a September 2019 opening and are confident the school will make an important contribution in meeting the demand for secondary school places in Hertfordshire from 2019 and beyond.”

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Harpenden Secondary Education Trust described the decision as “extremely disappointing” for prospective pupils and their families.

They said: “Harpenden Secondary Education Trust has always stated that it would not open on a site that provided a sub-optimal experience for the students and therefore that we would only consider opening on the permanent site.

“We had already agreed to compromise our vision by being prepared to open in temporary accommodation on that site, firstly when it was suggested we used the adapted permanent sports hall and subsequently by offering to open in temporary classrooms.

“We have become increasingly concerned that the experience of the first Katherine Warington School intake under these circumstances would not be comparable to that of students at the other Harpenden schools.

“We want Katherine Warington School to be a school of choice for parents and children in our community and we believe a positive experience for its first cohort will be crucial in helping us achieve that aim.”

Herts county council has confirmed that it will work with existing schools to see if additional places can be made available for September 2018.

It is expected that this work will be completed by Thursday, April 5, but parents are advised to remain on the Continuing Interest List which will be run again between Saturday, April 21 and Friday, April 27.

Katherine Warington School will now open in September 2019.

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