Wantange and Grove Campaign Group (WAGCG)
School places

 

5500 new homes could mean at least 5000 more children.

There are a number of primary schools but only one secondary school in the area, but most local schools are full. There are schools shown on the outline plans for both Grove Airfield (primary and secondary) and Crab Hill (primary) but until these schools are built and operational, children are likely to be bussed to available places outside the local area. The Council already pays £300,000 per year to bus children to/from Wantage and Grove.

 

Vale Councillors believe that schooling is not their responsibility. They say that schools are the responsibility of the County but they approve houses - how can we separate the two?

By approving new homes in Wantage and Grove without any provision for additional school places, Councillors are encouraging house buyers without children - or people who don't mind their children being bussed to schools miles away and probably different schools for each child.

 

Latest Update:

  • Grove CE Primary School: feasibility work is continuing into how Grove CE can best be further expanded. Discussions have been held with the Monk’s Farm developers about the possibility of them providing additional site area to support the expansion of the school to meet the needs of this development. If this does not prove a suitable solution, then Monk’s Farm would be expected to contribute towards the new schools on Grove Airfield, unless it provides its own primary school.
  • Grove Airfield development: we continue to require 2 new primary schools on this site, either one 1fe and one 2fe or both 2fe, depending on timings and scales of other developments. This will provide sufficient capacity for all of the Grove Airfield development (and possibly others such as Monk’s Farm).
  • Crab Hill development: this will provide a new 2 form entry primary school.
  • Until the new schools can be built on the strategic sites, and to meet the needs of the earlier housing development, additional capacity is being provided through expansions of existing schools. Grove CE Primary School has already increased its intake from 15 per year to 30 per year; this provides additional places broadly equivalent to 400 new homes. Charlton Primary School has already increased its intake from 45 per year to 60 per year; this also provides additional places broadly equivalent to 400 new homes. These expansions mean that there are currently spare places across the area – see below.
  • A feasibility study has also been ordered into the potential of Stockham Primary School to expand, to inform the governors in their considerations of this possibility.
  • Initial feasibility analysis is underway into the potential of St Nicholas Primary School in East Challow to expand.

The current position on spare capacity in the area is:

  • For the 2013/14 school year, across all year groups and all schools in Grove and Wantage there were 131 spare places (164 including St Nicholas). This equates to 7.7% (9.6% including St Nicholas) of total places offered by the schools. The Audit Commission advises that 5% - 10% spare places is an appropriate level of spare capacity for primary schools across a local area.
  • For individual year groups, the lowest level of spare places was 4% in last year’s Year 1 (5% including St Nicholas).
  • The 2013/14 Reception classes had 15% spare places (17% including St Nicholas).
  • For the 2014 incoming Reception, there are 11% spare places (12% including St Nicholas). Only 2% of first preference applications could not be met, much lower than average for the county or nationally. None of the first preference applications which could not be met was for an in-catchment school.

OCC has concluded a consultation on the Proposed Home to School Transport Policy 2015.

Following extensive feedback during the summer, when the Council deferred its decision on potential changes to the Home to School Transport policy, revised proposals were to reduce the range of schools to which children would qualify for free transport. To see the detail go to the Council Consultation Page

 

Proposed new schools for Grove and Wantage

The expansion of primary schools, to cope with the growing population of Oxfordshire, could be hit with a “devastating” shortfall of nearly £20m according to the Oxford Mail on 21 January 2014.
Council leaders and teachers warned of the damaging impact the funding gap could have on children’s future education. Oxfordshire County Council said money it expected to receive from the Department for Education (DfE) had been cut dramatically from £37.5m between 2013-17, to £12.89m and the authority warned the shortfall could rise to around £19.3m up to 2018.
Schools set to expand between 2015-18 include Charlton Primary School, Wantage and Grove CofE Primary School. This may now be in doubt.

A meeting on 4 November 2013 at County Hall gave approval for those elements of the strategic model of school provision for the area that could be decided upon at this stage. See the fullReport on Public Consultation.We have extracted a summary here[show detail]

The purpose of the consultation was to get our views on what types of schools we would want to see and where. Even with current numbers of children, King Alfreds will not be able to cope with the 2017 intake and that is before the 500+ new homes being built in the catchment area are occupied. The next nearest secondary schools are Abingdon, Didcot or Faringdon.

The County has little (if any) control over when this will happen because it depends on the developers and of course on the Vale district Council Planning Department. They only prepare the county council specification for a new school. Oxfordshire County Council is now inviting potential sponsors to express their interest for running the proposed new schools at Great Western Park near Didcot and the specification for the schools and details of the process of finding sponsors for new school are now available to view on the OCC website: http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/new-schools-oxfordshire. The ones for our new schools will look very similar.

 

Most of the new schools will be on the Airfield and given the delays so far it may be a long time before they are built but meanwhile the District Council continue to approve other developments. So what happens in the meantime?

We suggest that Grove CE Primary school could be expanded to take additional children.

Secondary places are more of a problem - where else could we put a new secondary school? Could King Alfreds be expanded further? If it is, then it could mean moving the preschool which currently is co-located. Where would the preschool go?

Options for increasing primary school provision [show detail]

Options for increasing secondary school provision [show detail]

The existing local schools are:

 

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