Last night I attended a consultation meeting on expanding St John's primary school in Newtown. Whilst there are pros and cons to developing this site I absolutely support providing enough school places locally for Reading children. Here is some more information. In the next few weeks the plans will be going up on the St John's website.
Here is the Q&A:
"Question: Why do we need more primary school places in the East of Reading?
There are not enough primary school places in the East of Reading to meet the needs of the local community and for the last three years it has been necessary to send reception age children as far as Katesgrove School to enable them to have a school place.
Question: Why is St.John’s primary taking more children and not Alfred Sutton or Newtown Primary?
When the problem initially came to light an in depth analysis was done on which school to expand taking into account parental preference and the likelihood of maintaining the number of children going into the school.
Whilst it might appear to be easier to expand Alfred Sutton than St John’s the location of Alfred Sutton, right on the border with Wokingham, is a challenge because there tends to be an outflow into Earley St Peter’s meaning that the school regularly takes children from beyond its designated area. New Town Primary School has a site which is more challenging to develop than St John’s due to its listed buildings and limited play space.
It is much more sensible to spend public money on expanding a school where there is a continuing demand from the local community and where it is physically feasible to do so.
Question: Who agreed for the school to expand?
The Local Authority asked the school, the governing body and church if a temporary classroom could be put in place whilst plans for a permanent expansion could be developed and consulted upon.
The local community will be invited to participate in a statutory consultation process regarding the proposed expansion of the school.
Question: When will the statutory consultation on permanent expansion take place?
The Statutory process to permanently expand the school will be run by the Local Education Authority (Reading Borough Council) in the New Year when parents and the local community will be asked for their views on the proposed permanent expansion of the school places to 420. The consultation will last six weeks during term time and the proposals arising from that consultation, after taking into account any feedback, will be the subject of a statutory proposal published in the local press. A formal period for comment takes place for a second period of six weeks. A formal decision will be taken by Reading Borough Council after taking into account the feedback from proposal stage following the end of the statutory proposal period.
Question: What will the school look like when it’s finished?
The proposal is to build a two storey building in the centre of the site which will contain eight classrooms, the ICT suite, the school office, some of the Senior Leadership Team offices and associated facilities.
The main, existing building will remain the same but will receive a significant refurbishment to bring the classrooms up to a better standard for teaching.
The playground will be improved to make use of the change in levels on site and will include marked out areas for netball and basketball. The synthetic turf pitch will be re orientated and upgraded to bring it up to current regulations.
Question: Will the children still be able to use the playing field?
The playing field will still be useable but will have areas which will be out of bounds at times when specific works take place on them or very close to them.
Question: When will work start?
Providing all approvals are in place we would like to carry out some enabling works at Easter time 2012. This will involve moving a gas main which currently runs across the site where we would like to build and moving it further onto to the playing field.
The work for the two storey extension would start in the summer next year should all be agreed.
Question: How will it be done?
The work will be undertaken in a phased approach. There would be enabling works initially, currently pencilled in for Easter 2012, the building works for the two storey extension would begin in the summer holidays with the refurbishment following it in Spring 2013.
Question: When will the work finish?
The work will be finished in the autumn of 2013."