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.
- 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]
Grove CE Primary School operates at 1 form of entry, but to do so is dependent on temporary accommodation. To maintain this size permanently the school requires investment in its accommodation. As a permanent 1 form entry school, it will be able to meet the need from the 133 homes which have received a resolution to grant outline planning permission at Old Station Road, north of Grove, should this development generate children before any new schools are built.
King Alfred’s Academy currently provides 310 places per year group. The number of children in primary schools in the area has risen in recent years, and year groups due to start secondary school from 2016 onwards are already larger than 310.
The Cabinet Member approved the following proposed primary school strategy for Grove & Wantage:
- Maintain Grove CE Primary School in its current location, and work with the school to plan suitable accommodation for it to operate as a 1 form entry primary school, serving its existing community, as well as housing development in the close vicinity. As the school’s current capacity is dependent on temporary accommodation, developer contributions will be sought towards permanent extension from developments which are judged to have a closer geographic and temporal relationship to Grove CE School than to the planned new schools. If the Monk’s Farm development requires growth in school capacity before new schools are possible on Grove Airfield, the county council would welcome discussion with the Monk’s Farm developer about how additional site area could be provided for Grove CE School to allow it to further expand.
- Maintain the requirement for two 2 form entry primary schools on the Grove Airfield development. Grove Airfield itself is expected to require, and thus fund, one 2 form entry school and one 1 form entry school; the latter would be expanded to 2 form entry in response to other relevant local housing development, such as that proposed for Monk’s Farm (unless an alternative solution has already been delivered due to relative timescales of developments). Such housing development would be expected to fund all additional costs of providing the second form of entry, whether this is required at the same time of the initial construction of the school or at a later stage. If the relative timings of developments are such that the Grove Airfield new schools do not offer a solution, such developments would be expected to provide alternatives, for example at Grove CE Primary School as outlined above or another new school, acceptable to the county council. The county council will object to housing proposals if it does not agree that acceptable school provision can be made.
- Maintain the requirement for a new 2 form entry primary school on the Crab Hill development, to be fully funded by the developer.
- Academy providers for new schools will be sought in due course, once the timescale for opening each new school is available.
- The site for the first new school on Grove Airfield, and the new school on Crab Hill, will need to be made available by the developers at the earliest practicable date, to allow timely delivery. The delivery timescale for the site of the second new school on Grove Airfield will depend on the speed of housing growth.
- Continue to review local school capacity with respect to changing housing development details and demographic pressure, and if necessary, work with the existing schools to plan expansions of capacity either on an interim or permanent basis.
The Cabinet Member approved the following proposed secondary school strategy for Grove & Wantage:
- Maintain the requirement for a new secondary school within the Grove Airfield development, on a site sufficient for up to 1200 pupils. The eventual size of school will need to be determined based on further details of housing size, type and timing, as well as evidence on underlying demand for school places.
- Based on current information about future pupil numbers, it is estimated that the new school will need to provide for 900 additional pupils as a result of housing development.
- Relevant housing developments should be required to contribute towards the funding of this new school on a pro rata basis, according to the projected pupil generation of each development, and based on the costs of a 900 place school.
- The site for the new school will need to be made available by the Grove Airfield at the earliest practicable date, to allow timely delivery. Details of the nature of the new school may need to be subject to further consultation as part of the process for identifying an academy provider, once the timescale for opening the new school is available.
- Continue to work with King Alfred’s to identify and plan for the emerging pressures on secondary school capacity ahead of the new Grove school opening, and to respond to any changes in housing development proposals.
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
The Crab Hill development is expected to produce enough children to fill a 2 form entry primary school. This is an effective and efficient size of school which is common across the country, and we are therefore proposing that a new 2 form entry primary school should be opened within the Crab Hill development.
In Grove, the Grove Airfield development is expected to produce enough children to fill the equivalent of a 3 form entry primary school, and the Monk’s Farm development is expected to produce enough children to fill the equivalent of a 1 form entry primary school. The County Council have considered different options for how these could be organised. Which do you prefer?:
- A single new 3 form entry primary school on Grove Airfield and a new 1 form entry primary school on Monk’s Farm.
- A new 2 form entry and a new 1 form entry primary school on Grove Airfield and a new 1 form entry primary school on Monk’s Farm.
- Two 2 form entry schools on Grove Airfield, one of which would be a relocated Grove CE Primary School, and a 1 form entry new school on Monk’s Farm.
- Two new 2 form entry schools on Grove Airfield, with children from Monk’s Farm attending either one of these, or one of the existing primary schools in Grove.
Options for increasing secondary school provision
King Alfred’s existing sites cannot accommodate the number of additional pupils expected in the area, and a new school site has been included in the planning for the Grove Airfield development.
More secondary school capacity will therefore need to be provided through one or more of the following options:
- Opening a new secondary school on Grove Airfield – either 11-16 or 11-19 age ranges. This new school could be set up by a wide range of organisations, including religious groups, educational specialists, employers, charities and community groups. Local Academy Trusts could apply to run this school including King Alfred’s Academy.
- Consult with King Alfred’s to expand onto an additional site at Grove Airfield. This site would be for local children from Grove.
- Opening a 14-19 college on Grove Airfield – for example a University Technical College or Studio School.
The existing local schools are: