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Bishop's Stortford educational trusts ready to do battle over town's new schools

Bishop's Stortford North secondary school plans (7483020)
Bishop's Stortford North secondary school plans (7483020)

The two bodies which oversee secondary schools in Bishop’s Stortford are set to bid against each other in the battle to run new schools for Stortford Fields and St Michael’s Hurst.

BSET (Bishop's Stortford Educational Trust) – which represents The Bishop’s Stortford High School, Birchwood, St Mary’s, Hockerill Anglo-European College, Bishop’s Stortford College and Leventhorpe in Sawbridgeworth – has confirmed its interest in stewardship of the one secondary and two primaries planned for the new estates.

Speaking on behalf of BSET, Dale Reeve, head of TBSHS, said: "With the Bishop's Stortford North school sponsorship competition window opening, the headteachers of the BSET group of schools will, over the coming weeks, be discussing any potential bid to sponsor those schools."

HEMAT – the Herts & Essex Multi Academy Trust created by Herts and Essex High School, which also includes Manor Fields primary – was poised to lodge its bid last spring.

A spokeswoman said: “We don't see the timing slippage as a major issue and our proposals have been updated in line with the criteria specified.”

It has already picked names for the two primary schools – Bourne Brook and Foxdells – and would call the secondary Wickham Hall, with a pre-school named Hoggate’s Wood.

Education authority Hertfordshire County Council is running the competition process to find a sponsor to deliver “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.

The schools will be academies offering 180 secondary and 150 primary school places a year. HCC wants to open the first new primary in September 2020 and the 900-place secondary, which will straddle the A120 bypass, in 2022.

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 and must be resubmitted with additional measures for sustainable transport.

Meanwhile, HCC 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.

The sponsor competition process opened on February 18 and will close on April 12.

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