New primary school considered for Hitchin

A NEW primary school which would be set up by a charity could be opened in Hitchin to relieve a high demand on places, under a government backed programme.

Changemakers, an organisation which works in developing young people’s leadership potential, is looking at opening a Free School in the county, with Hitchin the “most probable” option in the wake of the recent oversubscribed school places.

An application will be submitted in June to the Department of Education for the school and could open in September 2012 if approval is given.

Adam Nichols, who has a daughter starting school at Strathmore, Hitchin, in September, is the chief executive of Changemakers.

He said: “We’ve been looking all round Hertfordshire, but Hitchin is the main place we’ve been looking at.

“From personal experience, we were expecting what has happened over the past few weeks as there’s such a demand on places.

“The concept of what we’re proposing is a very child controlled school. Children will have quite a lot of say on how it’s governed and ran, and it will be more flexible on its curriculum.

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“It’s also very focused on community engagement and involvement.”

The school would see teachers taking lessons, with volunteers helping out with certain lessons such as PE and music.

It would admit children between the ages of four and 11, with the possibility of introducing a pre-school.

“We are quite advanced with these plans,” said Adam.

“We will submit proposals in June and we are exploring whether Hitchin is the right place. So many people there did not get what they wanted, so there is a gap in the market.

“The big challenge is to find somewhere. We have been looking at possible locations. We’re not constrained to how a school building may normally be but we obviously want somewhere with outside space for a playground and so on.”

The charity has already looked around a variety of locations, including industrial estates and disused offices.

Herts County Council (HCC) are supportive of the programme. A spokesman said: “The council welcomes free school proposals as a contribution to choice and diversity of schools, particularly where there is a shortage of school places.”