Thank you for presenting this petition with regard to primary provision at Yavneh College, and to all those who signed it. It is clear that this is an important issue for the local community. Firstly, please be assured that careful consideration has been given to the formulation of the recommended school expansion programme, which does not include this proposal. Hertfordshire, like many other local authorities, is experiencing an extremely significant increase in pupil numbers. This coincides with a time of particular financial austerity, given the current economic climate. As an Authority, we have a duty to secure a sufficient number of school places, a duty which we take very seriously. In Borehamwood, there is a forecast deficit of up to1 f.e. up to 2015/16. The proposal set forward by Yavneh College to provide a 2 f.e. primary element was carefully considered. The strength of feeling locally is clear, especially for those travelling some distance to attend Jewish schools in neighbouring London authorities. Additional places at Yavneh may create an alternative choice for those families, but those places may not be accessible to the wider community and it is not clear that they would address the forecast basic need for which the grant funding has been made available. The government has made available avenues through which Yavneh's proposal could be funded. An example is the Free School initiative, which provides the opportunity to bid for funding for provision which parents and local communities specifically want. It is clear that Yavneh, at this stage, did not feel it appropriate to bid for this funding for a number of reasons. However, it is the view of officers that such a bid would be received very favourably by the Department for Education and would, if successful, provide the funds to enable a project such as this. This is understandably disappointing for parents and Yavneh College. However, the recommended programme is the result of a considered process to make the most appropriate use of basic need grant funding. Officers will, of course, be very happy to work with the school and local community to explore all available options to open additional Jewish provision to serve the local community.