Decision day for primary school places in Winchester
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
A decision on the way forward to provide Winchester children with the best possible education opportunities will be made by Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, Councillor Roy Perry on 17 July.
Cllr Perry must choose the best way to provide hundreds of additional primary school places in the city from September 2014 to meet increasing demand. This is after extensive consultation over the last few months on options that represent significant long term investment of around £10million.
Cllr Perry said: "I've been listening very carefully to all the views I've been hearing throughout this consultation and I now need to weigh up all the pros and cons of all the options because they each have their own merits and disadvantages too.
"I need to be wholly satisfied that the solutions to the problems before me pass all the tests of being immediately available, affordable and workable and that officers have exhausted all suggestions of other land and building opportunities.
"I also need to be sure that the County Council is taking into account the need for possible future expansion in the longer term to ensure local children can attend their local schools and that best use is being made of the available capital of around £10m to provide the greatest value for money as well as the greatest advantage for the greatest number of children and better educational outcomes.
"£10million is a great deal of money and we all want to ensure that Winchester children get the best from this investment.
"I would like to thank all the parents, staff, governors and others in the community who have taken the time to give us feedback and their suggestions and I do recognise it as unsettling time for everyone directly involved. I will be looking very closely at all those responses over the next week before I make up my mind.
"I wish to emphasise that although the report contains a recommendation to me from officers, it is only a recommendation and that does not mean the decision is made. That will be my responsibility on the 17th."
There has been a significant and rapid demand for primary places in Winchester city area, particularly at Year R (age 4), reflecting a national trend and one that is expected to continue. School places forecasting is a complex business. It relies not just on birth rates, but planned new housing, where infill rather than large scale housing development makes it more difficult to balance. At the same time more and more families are moving into Hampshire because it is an attractive place to live and Winchester is one of those particular hot-spots.