New primary school for Hitchin?

A GROUP of parents hope to open a school in Hitchin, in a bid to address the lack of primary places in the town.

Headed by father-of-two Adam Nichols, the group is looking to open Hitchin Free School in the north of the town.

Although they have not found a definite site yet, they have been looking at potential locations, and will put their case forward to the Department for Education next month.

It comes a week after Hertfordshire County Council made a controversial decision to proceed with the enlargement of Samuel Lucas JMI School.

Mr Nichols, who opened a similar school in Harpenden this year, said: “In 2012, 27 per cent of Hitchin parents did not receive an offer for their first choice of school, and six per cent of parents did not receive an offer for any of their three choices.

“We want to offer greater choice to Hitchin parents and help meet the need for additional places in the town.”

Mr Nichols said lessons would follow the national curriculum, with Key Stage 2 pupils also sitting SATs.

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Teachers would oversee lessons, and specialists, such as sports coaches, would come in to teach.

If the Department for Education gives its approval, plans would see the school open in September 2014 for reception and Year 3 pupils, who would then move up through the ranks as new pupils arrive in the years following.

“It won’t take money away from other schools in the town. Those would continue to be funded as they are,” added Mr Nichols.

“This would be open to anyone in Hitchin. We’ve had a lot of support from parents.”

Once a proposal has been submitted to the government department, an interview will be held.

A decision will then be reached in spring next year.

The free school model has the support of Herts County Council.

Cabinet member for education and skills Frances Button said: “Free schools are a way of setting up new state funded education in response to what local people say they want and need in order to improve education for children in their community.

“The development of free schools complements the already good education provision in Hertfordshire and brings greater choice for parents. We already have three free primary schools here and we will work with providers to get the best outcomes for families in Hertfordshire.”

• A public meeting gauging support will be held tomorrow (Tuesday) at The Victoria in Ickleford Road from 8pm.

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