Tuesday 6 November 2012

School Places: New Meeting plus Accuracy of Forecast Questioned

Today arrangements have been finalised for a meeting of people interested in finding out how to set up a Free School in north west Caversham.  It starts at 7.30 pm in the Grosvenor pub on Thursday 8th November.  RBC officer Kevin McDaniel will be there, as will I and two colleagues.

This meeting came about as a result of the Caversham & District Residents' Association meeting on 22nd October as a way to look into providing adequate school places north of the river.

At last night's Cabinet meeting my colleague Cllr Sandra Vickers asked the following question:
Further to the answers on school places the Lead Councillor for Education gave me at Council on 23rd October, please will he clarify the following:
Since the Lead Cllr says the shortage of places is a national problem, predominantly in the South East, is his assumption safe that Reading’s neighbouring councils will be able to continue to give the same number of school places to Reading families for the next 5 years?  Why would these neighbouring councils not have the same issue of migration to their areas, thereby reducing available places for Reading children?
This was Cllr Ennis's response: 
This issue is a national one and the population is expanding.  Our neighbouring authorities are also dealing with this issue.  Further to the cabinet report of 1st October we noted that the forecast is indeed subject to variation.  Officers have modelled the available space based on current, stated intentions from our neighbours including their published strategic plans.  Cabinet have however requested that the forecast be reviewed and represented each year because we know the situation will develop over time.
There is already a significant challenge to find places and we believe the proposed level of expansion – 12 forms of entry in Primary school immediately and access to 16 more forms of entry into Secondary school by the end of the decade – is the prudent level of permanent expansion which balances the variability of need with the financial constraints that we face.