School places under reviewBy Lucy Thorne
July 23, 2012
A review of Wokingham’s schools strategy will be completed this autumn.
Staff in Wokingham Borough Council’s children’s services department are currently crunching numbers to find out where more places are needed, both in primary and secondary schools.
When they have completed their analysis, they will present them to councillors with a view to implementing any urgent changes quickly.
The review follows a troubled few ‘bulge’ years for parents of infant school starters, some of whom have struggled to get their children into local schools.
Brian Grady, the council’s strategic commissioner for children, young people and families, said the council faces two main pressures.
The first is thousands of new houses being built around the borough as part of four Strategic Development Locations (SDLs), as well as the growth in the number of primary school children that has already been seen in the last few years.
He said: “The SDLs will bring in families with 11, 12 and 13-year-olds, and there will be others coming through from primary schools too.
“We have been working with headteachers and in the autumn we will come forward with a strategy for the next four or five years.”
Mr Grady said the council would most likely focus on primary school places to start with, as this was the most pressing need.
He could not say whether existing secondary schools would have to expand to cope with the growing numbers.
Asked if the council would allow any school rolls to reach as high as a rumoured 2,000 pupils, he said: “It is not something we have got a decision on or an agreement on.
“We have not adopted a formal policy on maximum numbers.”
Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children’s services, said: “We cannot say if some schools are going to be bigger or smaller, it is too early to say.
“This is going to be a big review.
“It is a question of looking at the options and looking at where our bulges of children are.
“We are working closely with the schools so we can anticipate where the need is, and they are coming back with some great ideas.”