Harperbury Free School: year eight pupils could be offered places next year

Borehamwood Times: Martin Blain Martin Blain

Children who were due to start at the new Harperbury Free School before its opening was deferred could still be offered Year 8 places for 2015 - if there is demand.

The new secondary school was due to open at the former Harperbury Hospital in Harpers Lane, Shenley, in September – but the Department for Education failed to secure the site in time.

Although the school is due to recruit Year 7 pupils in its opening year, it is looking into the possibility of taking between 40 to 60 Year 8 pupils when it opens next year.

In a letter to prospective parents this morning, headteacher Martin Blain said: “We could not take a full cohort of 120 because this would put an unrealistic strain on staffing, nor would it work to have a very small number.

“We need to stress the process of setting up the 2015 year eight is complex and will strain our relations with other schools and the LEA.

“It will also put pressure on staff recruitment and the temporary building requirement. But we decided to continue to persevere with this idea out of continuing loyalty to the 2014 parents.

“However, we cannot pursue it unless there is reasonable indicative demand.”

The hospital was identified as a potential permenant site more than a year ago – but the authority is still negotiating with the Department of Health to secure it.

Parents who were hoping to send their children to the school set up an action group supported by MPs Anne Main and James Clappison, who met with Education Secretary Michael Gove and were promised he will personally intervene to help decide the future of the school.

Clive Glover, founding governor of the school, said: “There is now nothing more we can do to open this year, so we must concentrate on ensuring we can do so next year.

“This means putting our efforts into ensuring we have a site secured as soon as possible this year so we can provide confidence to parents applying in October for places at our school for September 2015."

If parents are interested in signing up for the school they should email admissions@harperbury.org.uk by Wednesday April 9.

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