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Council discusses means to expand number of school places

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

Ways to expand school capacity to account for a projected increase in population size were discussed at a cabinet meeting on Thursday, August 27.

Kevin McDaniels, director of children’s services, gave a report into the number of school places in the borough, compared to the likely demand.

The demand is expected to increase due to planned new housing.

The report outlined the different types of ways that schools could expand and increase their capacity, such as rebuilding schools rather than extending them – depending on the conditions of the school buildings and the associated costs.

Two potential sites for new school sites have been identified on Spencer's Farm (north of Lutman Lane) and the former Oldfield Primary School site at Chiltern Road.

The report also explores the redrawing of boundaries on co-located school sites and the acquisition of adjacent land.

In the 66 mainstream schools across the borough there are 80 feasible development options.

No decisions have been made yet and the information on the different options will be published for all schools for public reference.

“People often choose to make a decision about where they buy their homes, where they might look to send their children, a number of years in advance, and we think it’s important that our residents have a view of that information,” said Mr McDaniels.

The report also looks at the possibility of combining schools so that there are more two tier systems (Primary and Secondary) and fewer three tier systems (Infant/First, Junior/Middle and Secondary).

Several Windsor schools are currently three-tiered.

Cllr Stuart Carroll, lead member for children’s services, said: “There is some evidence from the Department for Education that fewer transitions for children is beneficial to them – but we must apply this to local context.”

Mr McDaniels added there are increasing financial challenges for small schools, and that some Windsor first schools have noted that it is harder for them to make ends meet. Grouping together into larger schools might help, cabinet members were told.

Cll David Coppinger (Con, Bray), lead member for planning, noted that this work was ‘absolutely critical’ to the success of the Borough Local Plan.

The BLP lays out the council’s plan for development of the borough until 2033. The final examinations in public for this plan will be in October and November of this year.

The whole cabinet voted unanimously in favour of the reports’ suggestions.

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