Councillors agree to cut places at five Hertfordshire primary schools

Oakmere Primary School, Potters Bar. Picture: Danny Loo

Oakmere Primary School in Potters Bar is among those with reduced places. - Credit: Archant

County councillors have agreed to halve the number of new places available at five primary schools across the county from September 2023.

Currently Oakmere Primary School in Potters Bar, Brookfield Infant School in Cheshunt, Holywell JMI in Watford, The Leys Primary and Nursery and Longmeadow Primary, both in Stevenage, all have surplus places.

And on Monday (February 21) a meeting of the council’s cabinet agreed that the number of places available to the youngest pupils through annual admissions  – known as the published admission number or PAN – should be cut.

At Oakmere Primary School, from September 2023 the number of new admissions will be cut from 60 to 30.

At Brookfield Infant School the number of available places for pupils joining the youngest class in September 2023 will be cut from 90 to 60.

The number of those places available at Holywell JMI will reduce from 60 to 30.

And at The Leys Primary and Nursery the published admission number will fall from 75 to 60.

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And at Longmeadow Primary the published admission number will be reduced from 60 to 30.

At the meeting the council’s cabinet executive member for education, libraries and lifelong learning Cllr Terry Douris said the decisions had been backed by the governing bodies of each school.

But he stressed that if demand for places increased at any one of the schools in the future, they may then be expected to take more pupils.

“What I have also asked officers to represent to schools is that where they do actually reduce the numbers and may therefore have surplus space within the school, that it is used profitably,” he said.

“But at the same time, at some stage in the future – and this may very well be the case,  in terms of residential development in those areas – that that space can be returned to educational provision.

“It is still part of the school and I think that is very important.”

At the same meeting councillors also agreed to changes designed to prevent multiple applications for the same child, where parents cannot agree.

In the past where parents – who do not live together – could not specify a child’s ‘permanent home address’, the council would determine the dispute by, for example, using the address to which Child Benefit was paid.

But the new policy will mean parents will have to reach a joint decision before an application can be accepted.

And if a decision cannot be reached, parents will now be directed to the family courts.