The number of primary and nursery school places in Hertfordshire are set to be cut, with settings in Letchworth and Harpenden earmarked to take a hit.  

Places available across the county are to reduce by 105 from September 2025.

At Northfields Infants and Nursery School in Letchworth, the number of places available will be halved, from 60 to 30.

Currently, The Grove Primary School in Harpenden can accept 90 pupils into their Reception classes, but from September the number available will be cut to 60.

The Comet: The Grove Infant and Nursery school in Harpenden recently received an outstanding Ofsted ratingThe Grove Infant and Nursery school in Harpenden recently received an outstanding Ofsted rating (Image: The Grove Infant and Nursery School)

The new admissions arrangements have been subject a period of public consultation, and on Monday (February 12), they were agreed by a meeting of the county council’s cabinet.

Other schools affected are Forres Primary School in Hoddesdon, which will see its offering reduce from 45 to 30, and Roger de Clare First School in Puckeridge which will go from 60 to 30 places.

Presenting the report papers to the cabinet, executive member for education Cllr Caroline Clapper pointed to the general decrease in primary age children.

“The main premise of this is to alter the admission numbers at our primary schools which are listed in the papers,” she said.

“This is due to the falling primary population that we are seeing – not just in Hertfordshire – but around the country.”

Referencing public consultation, she said people were “very much in favour” of the recommendations.

It would, she said, ensure schools didn’t take slightly over the number of children that they need or just slightly under, so they can run their schools “most effectively”.

It was reported to councillors that although The Grove Infant School had ‘historically’ filled all 90 places, there had been a significant drop in the number of allocated pupils over the past two years.

It was reported that a reduction in the number of places at the school would provide a closer match between demand and availability.

According to the report,  this would provide certainty for the school in terms of funding and financial viability.

The reduction in places has already been agreed by the school’s governing body.

Of the nine responses received as part of the council's consultation seven were in favour and two against.

It was reported that Northfields Infants and Nursery School in Letchworth  had not filled its 60 available places in recent years either.

Pupil forecasts suggested that even by reducing the number of Reception places to 30, there would still be sufficient places available in the area.

The move is said to have been backed by both the headteacher and the governing body – and all three of the responses received as part of the public consultation.

According to the report the reduction would assist the school operationally and financially and it would create a better match between places and demand.

In addition to the change in places at the four primary schools, councillors also agreed a change that would give children from the parish of Hexton some priority for admission to Pirton Primary School.

This is due to the proposed closure of Hexton JMI School, which could happen as early as April this year. 

The report states: “The nearest maintained Hertfordshire school to Hexton is Pirton Primary School.

“To provide an element of certainty for future applicants for primary
school places from the parish of Hexton, should Hexton JMI School close, it is proposed that the admission arrangements for Pirton Primary are amended to give specific priority for children living in the parish of Hexton.”

That would mean, should Pirton Primary be oversubscribed, children living in the parish of Hexton would get priority after those for whom it is the nearest school.

Cllr Clapper said officers had made it clear that children local to Pirton would be “at absolutely no disadvantage”.