Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Henley Standard - School Expansion


I wish to address some points made in the letter by David Maynerd headed ‘What about other option?’ published in your newspaper last week.

Mr Maynerd recounts a conversation in which the process undertaken by Reading Borough Council to address a shortfall in primary school places is questioned and the actual need for any more primary school places is called into doubt.

The Council conducted a lengthy consultation regarding the expansion of schools in the borough. This included a primary school place planning summit with headteachers in June 2012 and the launch of the Let’s Talk Education consultation in October 2012.

A series of discussion events were held across the borough in which the Council put forward its needs and communities were invited to have their say. Detailed conversations were held with headteachers and governing bodies of schools.

All the schools were assessed for viability in order to achieve best value from the capital available. As a result, Caversham Primary School was not included in the recommendations for the expansion programme.

A major expansion programme involving 13 primary schools was agreed. The Council won £19.1m funding from the Government and embarked on a £64 million primary school expansion programme which was completed this year having delivered more than 2,500 extra primary school places.

Over the next 10 years the demand for primary school places in Caversham will increase slightly.  The Heights free school has been at its capacity in its first three years and we predict it will remain so in the foreseeable future. Only one school in the Caversham area has places available - with just seven places.

I hope these details demonstrate the robust process undertaken by the Council in its school expansion programme and clarifies the current situation regarding demand for primary school places.
Councillor Tony Jones
Lead Member for Education

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