Radlett free school: 'It goes to show how much of a need there is for this' (From St Albans & Harpenden Review)
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St Albans children to apply for places at new Harperbury Free School in Radlett
St Albans children will be able to apply for places at a new secondary school in Radlett next year, after it was approved by the government this morning.
Parents and teachers who have spent three years campaigning for a new "ultra local" high school woke up to news the proposal had been given the green light by education secretary Michael Gove.
The Conservative politician approved 102 new free schools, including Harperbury Free School.
The school will be known as an academy, and chairman of the group Clive Glover will be a director, governor and trustee.
The Woodfield Road, Radlett, resident said it was a "tremendous relief" to have made it passed the first hurdle - but warned there are still many obstacles to overcome.
He said: "Over the years we have had an incredible amount of genuine people who supported us along the way. It just goes to show how much of a need there is for this really - it is much needed.
"Everything has paid off and even though I was optimistic we would get approved, it was obviously a huge relief when I heard the news.
"Now the real work begins to try and make this the success we planned this to be."
In January, the campaigners handed the Department for Education a 150 page report about their plans for the school, which could be built at the derelict Harperbury Hospital Site.
The new school is set to be open in time for the September 2014 intake and will provide 120 places per year for 11 to 18-year-olds.
Children from Radlett, St Albans, Shenley, Borehamwood, and some parts of Potters Bar will be eligible to apply.
Father-of-two Mr Glover first realised there was a need for a new high school when searching for a high school for his now 15-year-old son.
In his research, he discovered children in the area go to a total of 54 different schools and parents are faced with having to choose between a religious, same sex or fee-paying school.
Some parents admitted their children go to school as far as Berkhamstead, but Mr Glover hopes this new academy will mean 40 per cent of children will be able to cycle or walk.
The retired civil servant added: "I want this to be an ultra local school because it can be very tiring for children to have to travel over 20 miles each day.
"Obviously we now need to negotiate with the site owners. I am excited to get the ball rolling."
Parents will be able to apply for places for the school online from October 2013 using the Hertfordshire Admissions Online System.
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