Shortlist of new primary school sites announcedBy Laura Herbert
October 17, 2012
A shortlist of sites for new or split schools to help ease the pressure on primary school places has been announced.
Education bosses have narrowed down key building sites in four areas suffering an increasing demand for pupil places and are in talks with headteachers who are interested in running the sites as split schools.
Wokingham Borough Council chiefs need to create an extra 150 primary places for 2013/14 and even more for the following three years.
This list has been revealed after officers heard views from around 900 parents and residents at 19 meetings during the last three months:
Shinfield: Shinfield Infants/Junior Schools and Strategic Development Location sites
Winnersh: Winnersh Primary School or Winnersh Farm
Woosehill: Smith’s Walk
Charvil: East Park Farm or the area behind and around the village hall
Parents have raised a number of issues at the meetings, which are part of the council’s Primary School Place Review, including redrawing catchment areas and non-catchment siblings not being given high enough priority in the admissions criteria.
One mum, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “These are two sets of parents impacted by the same issue, which is the availability of school places in the right locations.
“If we join together to solve the problem and support the council with the classes they are trying to build then it resolves those issues for both parties.”
The final decision on the shortlisted sites is due to be made at a special executive meeting in December, with planning applications for the chosen sites to be submitted by the end of the year.
Brian Grady, the council’s strategic commissioner for children, young people and families, said: “We have received a number of expressions of interest for running split schools.
“These schools want to work with us to come up with viable business cases.”
The successful applicants will be considered at a special executive meeting either later this year or early 2013.
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “Parents and residents have been highly supportive of our proposed priorities – to improve communication so
that parents have more helpful information to inform their choices; to focus on increasing capacity across schools by considering new school sites; to consider changes to catchments and oversubscription criteria where this will help most parents get the most appropriate school place for their child.”
The Primary School Place Review will help form the council’s Primary School Strategy, which sets out how it will create additional school places from 2013 until 2016.
The strategy is due to be considered by the executive on Thursday, October 25.
To find out more visit
www.wokingham.gov.uk/council/consultations/schoolplacesreview or find Wokingham Borough Schools page on Facebook.