Innovative solution to primary school places pressure
Friday, 20 July 2012
An investment of £10.8m by Hampshire County Council will see an innovative solution put in place to secure sustainable, additional primary school places in Winchester continuing to provide children with the best educational opportunities now and into the future.
At his decision day on Tuesday, 17 July, Councillor Roy Perry, Hampshire County Council's Executive Lead Member for Children's Services, gave the go ahead for the first steps which will see The Westgate School transformed into a school which will cater for pupils aged from 4 through to 16. Public notices will be published to make the necessary alterations and enlarge the school by 420 places with effect from 1 September 2014. It will be the first such all-through school of its kind in Hampshire.
In addition to this Cllr Perry also agreed that statutory consultations should take place on the enlargement of Winnall Primary School to a total of 210 places and St Peter's Catholic Primary School to a total of 420 places - also with effect from 1 September 2014.
Hundreds of additional primary school places
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. The measures will provide hundreds of additional primary school places in the city from September 2014 to meet increasing demand. His decision follows extensive consultation over the last few months on options that represent significant long term investment.
Also included in the £10.8m investment package is £400,000 to enhance accommodation at All Saints, Harestock and Western primary schools. Cllr Perry specifically requested consideration be given to the possibility of future permanent expansion at All Saints.
An opportunity for innovation
Cllr Perry said: "I have listened very carefully to all the views expressed throughout the consultation. Of the options before me this really does represent the most, workable and sustainable option. It presents an opportunity to bring innovation into our schooling, offering for the first time a through school for children aged from 4 to 16. It comes on top of recent expansions to Weeke and St Bede Primary Schools as well as the current additional provision at Western Primary. This is the next step in the growth of schooling provision in Winchester.
"With this solution we will also have greater long-term flexibility in the system as it takes into account the need for possible future expansion to provide for children living in the community now who will need places in future and for children growing up in the city in the future. If we did not take the Westgate option now it would not be available in later years.
"This is a huge investment we are making into primary education provision in Winchester and I believe it represents the best use of the available capital providing value for money as well as the greatest advantage for the greatest number of children.
"It is partly due to the excellent reputation of the schools in the city that we have been faced with the increased pressure on primary school places. It continues to attract more families to live in the city to take advantage of the excellent education opportunities for their children. I have no doubt this proposal meets the needs of children in the best possible way offering maximum benefit to the greatest number of children."