Plans to reduce places available at two Stevenage primaries are step closer

Longmeadow Primary School, Stevenage. Picture: DANNY LOO

Longmeadow Primary School, Stevenage. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

Plans to reduce the number of places available for new pupils at two Stevenage primary schools are a step closer after being backed by a panel of councillors.

Currently the Leys Primary and Nursery School can take up to 75 new pupils into its Reception classes, but from September 2023 that could drop to 60.

The Leys Primary and Nursery School in Stevenage

The Leys Primary and Nursery School in Stevenage - Credit: Google Street View

And while Longmeadow Primary School can currently accept 60 new pupils, the plans are to reduce this to 30.

On Wednesday, February 9 the proposals were backed by a meeting of the county council’s education, libraries and lifelong learning cabinet panel, and they will now recommend to a meeting of the council’s cabinet that the change is implemented next year (2023/4).

According to a report, neither school has filled its available places for a number of years – and forecasts suggest lower demand from 2023 onwards.

Councillors heard that the proposed reduction in places – said to have the backing of the headteachers and the governing bodies at both schools – would protect the financial viability of the schools.

Seven responses were received as part of the public consultation on the plans to reduce the places available at Leys Primary School - six were in favour, one was against.

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Five responses were received in relation to Longmeadow Primary School – four in favour and one against.

The only negative response was from a parent who was concerned that the move would put pressure on the demand for places at other local schools.

But officials stress that there are ‘several schools’ within the area which are not full, and that even with the reduced number of places there would still be enough places locally.

There are also plans to reduce the number of places at three further Hertfordshire primary schools.

Strategy and policy manager Jayne Abery told panel members that primary numbers across Hertfordshire had plateaued and in some areas were going down significantly.

She said it could be “very, very challenging” for schools with just over 30 new pupils – particularly in their infant classes – because it would potentially mean they would have to employ an additional teacher, and that there may be increasing numbers of schools that would ask for their admission numbers to be reduced.

The decision on whether to reduce the number of places at the schools will be taken at a future meeting of the county council’s cabinet.