Reception places boost at Harpenden primary school

A HARPENDEN primary school has welcomed the doubling of reception places it can offer prospective pupils from September this year.

The Lea Primary School and Nursery on Moorland Road discussed the allocation boost with Peter Lilley, Conservative MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, and Daniel Chichester-Miles, Mayor of Harpenden, when they visited pupils last Friday, January 14.

Headteacher Sharon Swinson said she was “delighted” Hertfordshire county council has proposed a temporary over-allocation of 30 additional places at The Lea. The council has forecast a shortage of reception spaces at Harpenden schools of 11 places from 2010/11.

Mrs Swinson said: “We are very comfortable that we can accommodate those numbers in September.

“It makes financial sense for this allocation, rather than expending limited resources on additional classroom accommodation at other schools.”

The school currently has 121 pupils on its roll but has capacity for 210 students altogether.

Mrs Swinson explained: “One of the challenges is that people don’t know about us.

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“Geographically we are in Harpenden. Because our classes are small we do have capacity and we have a much greater ability to provide more attention to pupils’ needs and progress.”

Mr Lilley commended the school for pursuing its “great ambition” for growth.

He said: “I think that is excellent. I enjoyed the visit, the children were very challenging, in the best possible way.”

Twelve pupils aged from five to 11 grilled Mr Lilley and Cllr Chichester-Miles on everything from what they enjoyed about their political life to how they planned to make Harpenden a better place.

A question on personal security measures drew an interesting response from Mr Lilley who replied that while he didn’t have a security guard, his name had been found on a list of potential Irish Republican Army targets before the ceasefire.

Mr Lilley learned of his inclusion on the list of prominent possible targets when an IRA sleeper agent was located in London.

The MP was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, from 1984 – ‘87, and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry from 1990 – ‘92.