Expansion plans for Welwyn Hatfield primary schools

TWO Welwyn Hatfield primary schools could be expanded in order to meet the growing influx of youngsters into Hertfordshire.

As previously reported by the Welwyn Hatfield Times, St Michael’s in Woolmer Green and Welwyn St Mary’s have both been earmarked for possible expansion by Hertfordshire County Council.

The move is necessary because demand for school places in Hertfordshire has soared, far beyond initial forecasts.

The authority has agreed a potential �20m programme providing an additional 171 places for the 2013 academic year, at eight schools across the county.

St Michael’s, in London Road, is on that list.

If St Michael’s did expand, it would see numbers rise from 20 students per year to 30.

Headteacher Brendan Mallon said: “When I came here we had a roll of 89. Now we have 131 on the roll, and if we do go to 30 it would eventually work out at 210. So we’re expanding anyway.

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“We’ve got the land and it wouldn’t impact too much. It might impact on the traffic and that will need to be looked at, but nothing is set in stone yet.”

Asked why it was so difficult to predict primary places, Mr Mallon said: “There are fluctuations in birth rates and migration to the area. And in austere times, a lot of people in private education can no longer afford it and need state schools.

“It’s difficult to plan – there are so many variables. But this school will accommodate families as best we can.”

Meanwhile Welwyn St Mary’s is one of four schools identified for temporary expansion if more places are needed.

Welwyn St Mary’s headteacher Mary Westley said a meeting had been scheduled next month to discuss the council’s proposals.