Friday 28 September 2012

Reading East School Places Meeting

The public meeting about school places was heated, but not as well attended as I had anticipated (between 60-80 people, 14 of whom were councillors). 
Useful facts which came out of the meeting were:

From 15 October, a public consultation will be accessible on asking for views as to how RBC can meet its statutory responsibility to meet future demand for school places.  I highly recommend you participate.

RBC's update on education in the East of the Borough hand-out states:
"The forecast for the next four years shows that the east of Reading will need to take more children into Reception year than there are permanent spaces.  It is estimated at between 2 and 3 classes of 30 children.  We therefore need to find the space for at least 14 classrooms and related facilities in the area." 
It continues:
"Clearly all of these children are starting primary school, they will in due course need a place at secondary school.  While this does not have to be quite as local as a primary school, the overall forecast is that from 2017 there will not be enough places in Year 7 (age 11) for all those starting school and by 2020 we will need to be able to access 400 more places in year 7.  The Council is therefore looking for options including the space for a new 11-16 secondary school able to take at least 180 students a year."
Cllr John Ennis – the Labour administration’s Cabinet lead for Education - pledged that if no individuals/group/or organisation/s come forward to set up a Free School and all other possibilities have been exhausted, then his administration will borrow money to build a community school themselves.

Rob Wilson MP, has already put together the partners and identified a portion of the Crescent Road site for the Reading UTC (University Technical College).  Although the bid to the Department for Education (DfE) was for an 11-19 provision, a 14-19 UTC has been given the go ahead and is due to open in September 2013.

The DfE bought only the part of the Crescent Road site needed to accommodate the 600 place UTC.  The remaining part of the site was sold by the University of West London (previously TVU) a few days ago to Square Bay (a residential developer).

Planning application 12/01391/FUL has been submitted for the refurbishment and extensions to part of the Crescent Road Campus site for the UTC and is due to be heard by the Planning Applications Committee at a future meeting.  The plans and supplementary information can be viewed on RBC's planninghome or alternatively at the Civic Centre.

The Crescent Road site is in policy SA7 of RBC’s Sites & Detailed Policies Document (SDPD).  In essence SA7 sets out that the site is for educational purposes if required.  However if surplus to educational requirements the site could be used for residential housing - as long as it fulfils the given criteria.  I've uploaded the full text of SA7 here

Rob Wilson MP is currently in talks about an 11-16 school for East Reading with an education provider.  He anticipates he soon will be in a position to provide more detailed information.  [Check]

Footnote  Rob Wilson MP was unable to attend this meeting as he was in Westminster.  I spoke on his behalf.  He will be holding a public meeting to discuss school places - date to be announced.