Schools threat

THE future of 10 schools in Stevenage is uncertain. Hertfordshire County Council is undertaking a review on how it can deal with the problem of spare school places across the town, as well as in Hitchin and Letchworth GC. According to the latest figures r

THE future of 10 schools in Stevenage is uncertain.

Hertfordshire County Council is undertaking a review on how it can deal with the problem of spare school places across the town, as well as in Hitchin and Letchworth GC.

According to the latest figures released by the council there are over 500 spare places in the Stevenage schools under review.

This figure means that out of all the spaces currently available to children in the 10 schools, around seven per cent of them are not being taken up by pupils.


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A spokesman for the council said they have predicted that this is likely to rise to 16.8 per cent in the academic year 2012/13.

The council is currently working with headteachers, governors and other school representatives on how to tackle the issue of surplus places.

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And although the council is saying it is too early to talk about closures, a similar review in Hemel Hempstead has led to councillors in that town approving plans which will see the merger of six schools into three larger schools, and the closure of one more school.

Notices are being placed in the schools for six weeks indicating to parents and teachers how they can make official objections to the plans.

Speaking about the current review, Patrick Marshall, the headteacher of Marriotts School, in Telford Avenue, said it was too early to tell what will happen.

However, he did hope that the planned expansion west of Stevenage, which would see 5,000 houses being built, would result in no school closures.

Mr Marshall said: "I applaud the openness from the council; the fact that the information is being shared is a good sign.

"But it's too soon too worry about what's going to happen, it's too early in the day.

"We have a good history of collaboration with headteachers in the town and we are working together to see what is best for the schools but I think in Stevenage we can be a bit more optimistic because the number of school places needed in the future is likely to rise."

A spokesman for the council said at the moment it is just an information and opinion gathering stage.

The spokesman said: "We are obliged by the Government to keep surplus places in check and that is what this consultation is about, to work out how best to deal with spare places.

"It has been a problem across Hertfordshire and we're looking at how best to tackle the problems.

A public consultation is expected in May.

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