Competition process begins to run new Stortford primary and secondary schools
A significant step to provide more school places in Bishop’s Stortford is being taken this week.
Hertfordshire County Council has finally launched a competition process to find a sponsor to deliver three new schools at the Bishop’s Stortford North estates.
The winner must found a new secondary and two primaries “to be run as a new and innovative all-through learning village” for families moving into more than 2,500 homes at Stortford Fields and St Michael’s Hurst. And the education authority is warning bidders as a further 2,500 properties are planned in the area by 2033, the secondary, which is planned to straddle the A120 bypass, should soak up some of this further demand.
The schools will be academies offering 180 secondary and 150 primary school places a year. The council wants to open the first new primary school in September 2020 and the 900-place secondary school in 2022.
Bidders approved by the Department for Education are being told: “We’ll determine the second primary school’s opening date in line with the developers’ house building programmes and resulting demand for places.”
The background information and specification for bidders makes it clear that existing schools in the town are already operating at capacity and interim measures are being put in place to accommodate pupils who are expected to transfer to the new schools once they are ready.
The document warns: “Entitlement to home-school transport for children living on the Bishop’s Stortford North development and attending an existing Bishop’s Stortford school prior to the new schools opening will be withdrawn when the new schools open and places are available in the relevant year groups.”
Children living on the estate will also be given priority for places in the new schools because they are expected to transfer automatically from one of the two primaries to the secondary rather than opting for other Stortford schools.
The guidance to bidders says: “The new all-through co-education provision is being provided to primarily cater for children from families moving into the Bishop’s Stortford North housing development and we would expect most pupils to live within walking distance of the schools.
“The admission arrangements for the all-through provision must reflect the fact that children from this area must be prioritised above other children, even those living further afield with siblings.”
According to the original timetable, the schools should already be built. As a result, the planning permission for the western Stortford Fields primary school for 420 pupils is due to lapse in April this year and must be resubmitted with additional measures for sustainable transport.
The advice says: “The re-submission will include an assessment of nearby parking facilities for a park and stride which would have to be included as part of the school’s travel plan.”
Meanwhile, Herts County Council has pressed ahead with plans to buy former allotment land off Farnham Road from Bishop’s Stortford Town Council for a 630-pupil primary to service St Michael’s Hurst and families living in the eastern portion of Stortford Fields.