Mapping Hampshire school places to give greatest opportunity for all
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
It's the end of school year for about 150,000 pupils across Hampshire, but the number crunching continues for those in charge of planning to ensure that every child has equal access to excellent learning opportunities regardless of where they live.
Anticipating future demand to ensure there's room for up to 10,000 or more extra primary school places needed over the next five years is at the heart of Hampshire County Council's draft School Places Plan for 2012-16. The plan is now under revision following widespread consultation. New information from the Census shows a seven per cent increase in the under-fives population to 77,300. This is in line with the Council's own forecasts.
The county councillor with responsibility for a final decision on the plan to be taken in the autumn is Councillor Roy Perry, Executive Lead Member for Children's Services.
Managing increased demand
He said: "School place planning is a complex calculation, relying not just on rising birth rates, but housing growth and parental preference putting pressure on availability. Another factor and one of the hardest for us to predict, is population movement. The nature and pace of these developments is also testing Hampshire County Council's forecasting models especially as it seems parts of Hampshire are increasingly attractive for young families to move to. To make it even harder for the planners, forecasts of growth are not uniform across the county."
Current long term forecasts show the need for 9,450 primary places over the next five years - and that comes with a significant price tag. Cllr Perry said: "Over the next ten years that's the equivalent of around 20 new primary schools and two secondary schools and £200m would be needed to meet the long-term projected demand. That's why I'm giving Government a loud and clear message that more money will be needed to help us cope with this growth in pupil numbers."
Despite the rising demands, which are at least in line with national trends, Hampshire County Council does better than others when it comes to giving children their choice of a local school.
"When the new term starts in September, 97.2 per cent of the 33,000 children Hampshire allocated new places for will be in a school of their parents' choice and 89.9 per cent in their first choice," said Councillor Perry.
"There were always going to be some parents who did not get the school of their choice where there is exceptionally high demand and I sympathise with them, but we will be doing all we can to make sure that number is kept as low as possible and ensuring that Hampshire continues to have this matter firmly in hand."
Investing in education
Meanwhile one of the biggest ever capital programmes since the 1990s continues, to expand and improve schools across Hampshire, with millions invested into the provision of more school places and funding to repair and upgrade early years' facilities and education study centres.
Earlier this week Cllr Perry approved an investment of £10.8m for an innovative solution to secure sustainable, additional primary school places in Winchester from September 2014 to meet rising demand there. Subject to statutory notices, The Westgate School should be transformed into a school which will cater for pupils aged from 4 through to 16, the first such all-through state school of its kind in Hampshire.
Other recent capital investments include:
- A £1.6million project refurbishment and extension of Bramley Controlled CE Primary School; an extra five classrooms will be built.
- The £4m redevelopment of Cupernham Community Infant and Junior Schools in Romsey to provide extra capacity for up to 210 pupils as well as providing enhanced specialist teaching and learning resources and areas for wider community use.
- £5.5million for combined developments at Tweseldown Infant School and Church Crookham Junior School in Fleet.
- A £5.6million brand new 210 place primary school in response to the development of 1,200 new homes at Picket Twenty, south east of Andover.
- £2.5million of work to extend and remodel Siskin Community Infant and Nursery School in Gosport.
Councillor Perry said: "These are undoubtedly challenging issues nationally with an added dimension here because Hampshire is such an attractive county served by very good schools. The work we have recently done in resolving the Winchester issues shows just how important it is we all work together to find the best solutions and I am grateful for everyone's involvement."