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Satellite grammar plan put on hold as borough approves 1,380 school place expansion programme

Satellite grammar plan put on hold as borough approves 1,380 school place expansion programme

Simon Meechan

A £20m project to add 1,380 places to Royal Borough secondary schools by 2018 was given the go-ahead by cabinet last night.

The move will see an extra 30 places added to Charters in Sunningdale, 30 in Dedworth Middle School in 2017 and 30 more in 2018.

Windsor Boys’ School and Windsor Girls’ School will each get an extra 30 places from September 2017. In Maidenhead, both Cox Green School and Furze Platt School will have 30 more spaces in 2017.

Initially the council had planned to add 60 spaces to Furze Platt by 2016. Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green) told cabinet that some of his constituents were disappointed by the ‘double whammy’ decision to halve Furze Platt’s expansion and delay it by a year.

He said parents with children at Courthouse Junior School were concerned that they would not get places at Furze Platt, as, since 2015, children have had to live within 0.8 miles of Furze Platt Senior School in Furze Platt Road to qualify for a place. In 2012 the qualifying distance was three miles.

He said Furze Platt is the most popular ‘first preference’ for parents in Maidenhead. He asked councillors to consider going back to Furze Platt and seeing if they can at least bring the 30 place expansion forward by a year.

He said: “Bringing it forward by 30 places this year will make such a difference to people’s lives.

“I’m not saying change it now.

“Go back to the officers, find the money and see how important it is.”

Royal Borough director of children’s services, Alison Alexander, told Cllr Werner that it was the borough’s idea to propose a 60 place expansion in 2016 at Furze Platt, but said the school is happy with the later 30 place expansion.

She said: “We’ve gone back and said 30 places in 2017. They are very comfortable with that and felt that was most appropriate for the school at this time.”

Cllr Werner was told that the council will look into talking with the school about bringing the expansion forward.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Philip Bicknell (Con, Park) told the panel that the council will not pursue its idea of opening a satellite campus of an out-of-borough grammar school in Windsor and Maidenhead, until plans for a similar school in Sevenoaks, Kent are given the go-ahead.

Cllr Bicknell said spending any more money on the proposal is a risk until they know satellite grammar schools are legally viable.

He said: “It’s not a good thing to gamble with a lot of money at this stage until we know what happens with the Kent scenario.”

Cabinet member for finance, Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside) added that any satellite grammar plans would have no effect on the current school expansion program.

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