School places plans mean catchment rules will not changeBy Jon Nurse
October 29, 2012
Catchment areas and admissions criteria for non-catchment siblings will not be changed before the next school year, after a new schools places strategy was adopted.
Council bosses gave the green light to the plan to spend £23 million in three years to meet increasing primary school places demand across the borough at a meeting of the borough's executive committee on Thursday.
At the meeting, the committee accepted the Primary School Provision Strategy, which includes delivering 150 new places by September through building primary schools at four hotspots across the borough.
But the strategy reveals catchment areas and the priority given to out-of-catchment-area siblings will only be reviewed for the 2014/15 school year.
No decision will be made tomorrow on the sites for the new schools in Shinfield/Spencers Wood, Wokingham town centre, Winnersh and Charvil.
Before the meeting, councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “Choosing where and how we create these additional places are major decisions with outcomes that will last years. This is why it is so crucial we get it right for the schools, the children, their parents and surrounding communities.
“Parents and the communities in the areas needing this additional provision have been at the heart of our major consultation, and will continue to be so as sites and finer details are discussed and considered during the coming months.”
The recommendation presented to the council executive would cost £2,774,000 in the current financial year and £14,500,000 and £6,461,000 the following years.
The strategy report states that 570 new Reception places in the borough will be created in the long term.
The council is continuing its consultation into preferred sites for the new primary schools, which are due to be considered a special meeting of the executive in December.
A number of headteachers have expressed their interest in running the split site schools and successful applicants will be considered at a special executive meeting either later this year or early 2013.
Planning applications for the final sites are expected to be submitted at the end of December.
The strategy also makes provision for plans if one of the new school sites isn’t ready for September, with a focus on community engagement and temporary expansion plans drawn up in partnership with school clusters.
More than 900 people attended the meetings organised by the council during the past three months and 300 people have so far completed the online consultation on the council website. More public events are planned.
Visit the council’s Facebook page ‘Wokingham Borough schools’ or www.wokingham.gov.uk/council/consultations/schoolplacesreview.