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

A new housing development in the area means approximately 2,600 homes will be built. We want to build new secondary and primary school buildings to offer 180 secondary and 150 primary school places a year.

Details on the proposed new building for secondary age pupils are available on the Hertfordshire ePlanning website. Details on the new primary age buildings will be available during the Spring Term 2019.

A competition to seek applications from Sponsors interested in running the school provision will be held in 2019.  In advance of this process, a pre-consultation will be held between Monday 26 November 2018 and Friday 21 December 2018; to alert interested parties and to seek feedback on the proposal itself. For details on how to provide feedback please see our Consultations webpage:

Bishop's Stortford North consultation


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


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.

Important information about the Summer 2017/18 Interim Forecast

Hertfordshire uses a software system to produce pupil forecasts to help assess the demand for school places across the County.

We have recently migrated to a new forecasting system. This system is based on the same Hertfordshire education planning areas and uses the same data sources which Hertfordshire has relied upon in the past.

The published interim forecast is the initial forecast from this new system. This is an interim forecast (at both primary and secondary level) which projects demand for places for the next four years, up to 2020/21, while we embed the new system and review forecast assumptions.

The exception is in Harpenden where, because of a pressing school place planning need, the interim secondary forecast projects 10 years ahead to 2026/27.

The next forecast will be published as a mid-year update early in 2018. Our new forecasting system provides us with a solid platform on which to plan for the right number of school places in the right locations into the future.


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.