Hitchin head disappointed at school being overlooked in pupil expansion scheme

The Priory School head Geraint Edwards.

The Priory School head Geraint Edwards. - Credit: Archant

A Hitchin headteacher has spoken of his ‘disappointment’ at his school being overlooked in a pupil expansion scheme.

Priory School head Geraint Edwards has responded to Herts County Council’s plans to increase the intake at Hitchin Girls’ School and Hitchin Boys’ School from 165 a year to 210 from September 2018 in a £9 million investment.

In a letter to parents seen by the Comet, Mr Edwards said: “I’m pleased to see such investment at our two single sex schools – but I’m disappointed we’ve been overlooked in this phase of the expansion and the negative impact it’ll have on co-educational provision in the catchment area.

“As a parent myself I view the expansion of single sex schools as blatantly reducing the learning experiences of a generation of Priory students.

“Over the last three years I’ve been in detailed discussions with HBS, HGS and the local authority on how to accommodate the increase in demand for secondary school places for 2018 and beyond to ensure parity of provision across the three schools and not to favour either single-sex or co-educational learning. Unfortunately for us the recommendation on expansion at HBS and HGS was approved.”

The move to add an extra 45 places at both sites follows the council agreeing the money required – pending final agreement. The money is for extra classrooms and facilities for a permanent increase in the Year 7 intake at both.

However Mr Edwards believes the desire to place the 90 additional students at the two single sex schools has been driven by them agreeing to review their admissions rules, thereby capping the number of children coming from Letchworth and increasing the proportion of places available to Hitchin children – meaning around 30 Letchworth children would not be allocated a place at either HBS or HGS.

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Mr Edwards added: “There’s no current evidence to suggest these proposed changes to the admission criteria will be implemented by the governing boards of HBS or HGS. There may be considerable opposition to such proposals from concerned parents. If so there may be a shortage of secondary places in Hitchin.” The Priory aims to achieve foundation status by July – in which the governing body has greater freedom in the running of the school – with Mr Edwards hoping it will ‘provide a more level playing field’.

A Herts County Council spokesman said: “It’s proposed to expand the single sex schools first with future expansion at the Priory then able to meet any further community need or new housing growth.”

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