School planning

It's our responsibility to make sure there are enough school places in Hertfordshire.

We commission the places from existing schools. All new schools now need to be academies or free schools, approved by the Secretary of State.

Plans for new schools

We make plans to build new schools in areas that can’t meet the demand for school places. We normally ask local residents for their opinion first.

South-West Hertfordshire

Croxley Danes School submitted an application for a new free school to be built. This was approved in March 2015 by the Department for Education

It was announced in October 2016 that we had secured the site for the new school

The school opened in September 2017.

For more information, please visit Croxley Danes School website.

Bishop's Stortford North

There are plans to build over 2,500 new homes in Bishop’s Stortford North, plus another 2,500 in the local area by 2033

To make sure there are enough school places, we are planning to establish new schools within the Bishop's Stortford North housing development, offering 180 secondary and 150 primary school places a year. We are working to open the first new primary school in September 2020 and the secondary school in 2022. We’ll determine the second primary school’s opening date in line with the developers’ housebuilding programmes and resulting demand for places.

The Department of Education (DfE) has agreed our recommendation that this new school provision should be run by Avanti Schools Trust who were selected through a thorough and robust competition process to find a sponsor.

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Harpenden Free School Trust submitted an application for a new free school to be built. This was approved in March 2015 by the Department for Education.

It was announced in January 2016 that we had secured the site for the new school.

The school is scheduled to open in September 2018.

For all future updates and information on the school opening in September 2018, please visit the Trust’s website at:

Background Information

There are currently 3 outstanding secondary schools in Harpenden. The demand for secondary school places is increasing. A new school is therefore needed to ensure that the rising demand in Harpenden and the surrounding villages can be met.

We've found a site for the new school and have exchanged contracts with owners of the land opposite to Lower Luton Road and Common Lane.

New Secondary School in Harpenden – press release (Oct 2016)

Background documents

Meeting minutes

New special free school

In July 2018, the government launched a joint special and Alternative Provision free schools wave, and asked local authorities to set out their case for why a new school would benefit their area.  Hertfordshire County Council has identified the need for additional special school places to meet a gap in local provision and submitted a bid for a new special free school.

The Government has announced that Hertfordshire County Council was one of 39 successful local authority bids and we are inviting applications from proposer groups as the next stage in the process to establish a Special Free School (Academy) through a competition.  Further details of that process can be found on the DfE website

Find out more by looking at the Hertfordshire Special Free School Bid March 2019 (PDF 184KB) Opening in a new window

Potential sponsors

An event was held on 22nd May for sponsors interested in finding out more about the new school and the process. Details from the event and information requested by delegates can be downloaded:

Information about a further New Special School Event (PDF 85KB) held on 28th June can also be downloaded.

Key dates

30 September 2019, midday

Deadline for submission of applications by potential proposer groups

September - December 2019

Assessment of applications and interviews
Early 2020

Secretary of State's decision on successful proposer groups announced

How we decide how many school places we need

We use a computer programme to produce a forecast every summer term to assess the demand for school places in local areas. We update this in the autumn term.

The forecast is based on:

  • how many primary school pupils are moving on to secondary schools
  • any trends which have formed over the past few years
  • any known housing developments.

Using this forecast means there should be the right number of places in the right locations. Decisions will be affordable and won’t affect the quality of teaching at each school.

View the latest primary school area forecast and secondary school area forecast.

View the latest primary meeting demand document and secondary meeting demand document

Keeping the schools informed

We offer to visit headteacher group meetings throughout the year to update them on the latest school planning issues, forecast results and to support schools converting to academies.

Proposals for additional school places

The school planning team decides whether a school needs more or fewer school places each year. They consider a large amount of evidence to make an informed decision.

All school proposals are evaluated by 4 points:

  • Is it in the right location?
  • Will it make the school more effective?
  • Is it affordable?
  • What are the effects on the area?

The county council's Education and Skills Panel and Cabinet then decide whether or not to go ahead with the proposal.

Types of schools

Read more about the types of schools in Hertfordshire.