This Week 10th December 2018

The structure of the Trust has been in place for several years as we steer the proposal for the new school along the labyrinthine road from need to reality. As we now look forward to opening in September 2019, we have been reviewing the Trust structure as it becomes the governing body of the school. Represented on the Governing Body will be Roundwood Park, St Georges, Sir John Lawes, University of Hertfordshire and Rothamsted Research. We currently have vacancies for two Community Governors. The opportunity for parents of students to become governors will follow in the new year.

We are looking for Governors with a variety of skills, including the following areas:

• Legal
• Property and estates management

It is desirable but not essential for any applicant to have recent secondary school governance experience.

This is an exciting opportunity to join us before the school opens, helping to shape the school as it grows. There is a significant time commitment required of school governors and possibly even more for a new school. It’s approximately 2-3 hours a week. There will be some evening meetings plus meeting preparation time and regular training. There will also be a need to carry out school visits (1-2 per term) during school time.

All governors will adhere to the 7Nolan Principles of Public Life. For further information on being a school volunteer governor, please see:

If you would like to be considered for the role, please complete the application form electronically which is available from the Governor Vacancies page and send to:

The closing date for applications is Monday 7th January. Applicants will be reviewed by the Trust, and may be invited to interview.

This Week 22nd November 2018

We are reaching the final stages of our technical acquisition for the school – that’s everything from computers to flat screens to phones. I’m glad to say that with a little bit of bargaining and arm twisting, it looks like we’ve managed to get pretty much everything on our shopping list including a school radio station and some drones!

I observed a Year 7 geography lesson this week. One of the key points I picked up was literacy and vocabulary challenge that can face new Year 7 students. It’s not ‘next to’ or ‘below’, it’s to the west of or to the south of. The specialised vocabulary and associated understanding can be daunting for new Year 7 students, especially when you multiply that across 10 subjects. There is a recent article in Schools Week from the Florence Pope School in Macclesfield all about the transition challenge. Most schools focus on and get the pastoral transition right but the literacy transition can also prevent a smooth crossing from Year 6 to Year 7. For example you need background knowledge to fully understand: ‘As the desert sun climbs overhead, the kangaroo rat burrows deep in the sand’ (Willingham/Lemov).

I did the Six Word Story challenge with my Year 7 creative writing class this week. It focuses on the power of words. Hemmingway famously responded to the challenge with ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’. My class voted our winner to be ‘Coffin lid closes, she’s still alive!’. We will assess the level of literacy of our new students at Katherine Warington very early in Year 7 so we can offer extra support and stretch where needed.

I went to the Reach Free School in Rickmansworth this week. They have just moved in to their newly built school now they have full year groups and opened a Sixth Form. It was fascinating listening to some of the staff who had been there through the entire journey. I took a lot away from the visit. Reach have had a successful Ofsted and a strong first set of GCSE results and I thank the senior team for their time.

Tony Smith

This Week 12th November 2018

There has been a tremendous reaction to the school and a fantastic volume of applications to join us as our first students in Year 7 in September 2019. The main window for applications is now closed and HCC will organise notifying families on National Offer Day on March 1st 2019. We still welcome applications, but they will be treated as late by HCC and not included in the first round of offers. We will arrange an event around that time to welcome students who have been offered a place and inform others about the arrangements for the continued interest process.

I’m told that survey work on site is edging slightly ahead of schedule as the weather has been kind so far. I will have a timeline shortly for the first phase of the build and the full school build which I will publish on the website highlighting significant milestones as we progress.

This week I chaired a fantastic meeting with our curriculum group as we discussed the details of our curriculum at Keystage 3 and 4. The focus was our additional learning opportunity at the end of each day from 3.30pm to 4pm. A very strong feeling emerged that our extra learning opportunity (period 7) should focus on developing the skills which emerge from and feedback into the knowledge taught in subject periods in the school day. We won’t be able to confirm the range of our period 7 offer until recruitment is finalised but I’ve already had some approaches from people to offer their time on a voluntary basis and our intention is to offer a wide range of opportunities such as critical thinking, young engineer, book club etc. We also have some great suggestions from students and parents who attended our open day. I’ll develop an option process so that students can select their period 7 on a termly basis then rotate. Orchestra and team sports will sit outside the options process so they can be pursued all year where applicable.

Finally, I attended a very interesting talk from Paul Hannaford on Drug Awareness at Rothamsted this week. It was arranged by the Harpenden secondary schools (with some financial support from the local council). It was a graphic, no holds barred insight into the reality of drug use and abuse and its devastating impact on individuals, families and friends of addicts. Paul is a former addict who now spends his time delivering talks and programmes to young people and parents. You can find out more about Paul’s work on his website

This Week 29th October 2018

It’s been a really energising week. We can finally get our teeth into developing a curriculum in detail. Whilst we have the parameters of a timetable and subjects, what we will teach, in what sequence and why will we do it this way, is at the heart of any school. The curriculum gives the school its purpose. Sometimes schools can fall into the trap of narrowing their curriculum and then teachers are encouraged to teach to ‘the test’. There is a lively debate amongst educators as to the ideal curriculum – knowledge based or skills based, or are these intrinsically linked with no real value added by false categorisation? Also what is the thinking behind some schools moving disadvantaged students on to a stripped back curriculum, perpetuating their disadvantage? A strong curriculum in depth, breadth and reach is the starting point. A rich curriculum can deliver exam success provided it is implemented through well taught and appropriately sequenced content, thoughtfully designed assessment practice and an appropriate model of progression. So perhaps after the endless months of wrangling over the school being built, you can understand my delight at being able to move forward to discuss what we teach and when, how much depth at what stage and which subject ideas we will link together. Then we move on to what resources to allocate, which way to teach and how to make sure all students are able to access each new concept, construct or fact. We are designing a curriculum with clear intent, to be implemented consistently and which will continually evaluate the knowledge and skills students have gained against expectations.

I have also been developing the teacher recruitment arrangements for the new school. I find this far more energising than discussions about battery versus radio controlled clocks for classrooms! We have a list of potential teaching staff who have expressed their interest over the past months and we are beginning the process of contacting them as well as finalising the job specifications and personal specifications. Vacancy adverts will run just after Christmas for key teaching staff then I’ll begin support staff recruitment in the Spring. The logistics involved with observing candidates teaching Year 7 students could be a stretch but I intend to reach out to our partner secondary schools and see if I can run that aspect of the recruitment programme at their schools.

Finally DON’T MISS THE APPLICATION DEADLINE. It’s tomorrow, the 31st October. Make sure you aren’t haunted by the spectre of lost opportunity!

This week 20th October 2018

It has been an interesting week full of diverse issues.  We are at the stage of finalising the furniture, fixtures and equipment for the finished school (FF&E), so lots of conversations about the type of folding tables in the dining area, vinyl versus carpet in various parts of the school, radio controlled clocks versus battery clocks and whether the radio signal would actually work through the walls!

To continue reading please see the full article below:


After our successful Open Day, hopefully, you now have enough information to decide if you will apply to KWS for September 2019. The application window closes on 31st October. The decision to apply to KWS is an additional option to the normal four preferences in Hertfordshire and does not make up one of your four preferences. Please go to the admissions page on the KWS website, complete the application and return it to HCC. If you need more information please see our prospectus or FAQ’s document.


FAQ’s from Open Day 2018

Thank you to everyone who attended the Open Day on Saturday 6th October and a big thanks to everyone who gave me a hand and to Rothamsted for hosting the event.

I was asked a series of questions by parents during the event and thought it might be useful to make these and the answers available to everyone.

1) Should I put KWS as my first preference on my application form?

The application process for this year is that you have 4 preferences in Hertfordshire AND you can also apply to KWS. In effect, it’s a free additional choice. This is because the Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State for Education is not in place. The timeline for any school, is that the Funding Agreement is in place by January or February prior to the school opening. On March 1st, National Offer Day, places permitting you will be offered a place at one of your 4 preferences and a place at KWS and then you can decide which to accept. If you do not get offered at place straight away at KWS, it is important to remain on the continued interest list.

2) How do I apply to KWS?

Please visit out website – and complete the application form and return it to HCC.

For more questions please see the full FAQ’s here – FAQs Open Day 2018

Kier Slides from Open Day 2018 – Kier Open Day 2018 Slides

Kier 278 Highways Works – Kier Site Highways Works

Permission to Appeal Denied. Katherine Warington School goes ahead.

The Court of Appeal has denied permission for Right School Right Place to appeal against the High Court Judgment made on August 2nd in relation to the planning permission for the new secondary school in Harpenden.

The Judge stated that the Appellant identified seven grounds of appeal. He concluded that ‘they do not, either individually or cumulatively, have any real prospect of success’. He continued, ‘ Nor can I see any other compelling reason why this Court should hear this appeal’.

This judgement (made on 25 September 2018) concludes the ability for any party to legally challenge the planning decision reached by Hertfordshire County Council.

Works on site should start this year and the school will open in September 2019.

Philip Waters Chair of the Trust said:
‘This is wonderful news and a great relief that we will after all be able to open in September 2019 and meet the demand of Harpenden families in a peak year for secondary places. The wider community will be pleased that this matter is now resolved.

Founding Headteacher Tony Smith said ‘The legal process has run its true course. Every side of the issue has had their chance to comment and challenge. We can, for the sake of local children in Harpenden finally begin to build the school that is needed so much. Concerned parents will be incredibly relieved at this news. We are delighted, it feels like Christmas has come early this year.’

Hertfordshire County Council’s Terry Douris, Executive Member for Education, in welcoming the news said:

“We are pleased to learn of the outcome of the Judge’s decision not to grant the appeal, which I am sure will come as a great relief to many local parents. We will continue to support the Harpenden Secondary Education Trust and the DfE as they work towards a successful opening in September 2019.”

Open Day for September 2019 Intake

Open Day 2018 Saturday 6th October 10am-2pm at Rothamsted Research Centre AL5 2JQ

Heads speeches will be at 10.30am, 12pm and 1.30pm

Judicial Review Appeal – More Information

The appeal process is a two stage one. The application to appeal is first considered by a Judge (not be a formal hearing). They will either give permission to appeal or dismiss it. If permission is given then there would be a formal hearing at the Court of Appeal. Three judges would consider the appeal. The Claimant, Defendant and any interested parties would put their cases forward at the hearing.

The Claimant (Right School Right Place) lodged an appeal application last week (10th August). The Defendant and interested parties are currently preparing papers to be submitted next week. These will be passed to a Judge to decide if permission to appeal should be given.

Currently there is no clarity regarding the timescale involved in this process. We will post updates as soon as any dates are confirmed.