£20m plan to provide 1,380 classroom spaces in the Royal Borough

£20m plan to provide 1,380 classroom spaces in the Royal Borough

Tara O'Connor

Revised plans that would see £20m spent on providing 1,380 classroom spaces have been drafted by the Royal Borough to cope with ever-expanding student numbers.

The cash would be spent from 2017 – a year later than originally expected – after an amended forecast said the places at its secondary, upper and middles schools would be needed from the later date.

The plans were discussed at an overview and scrutiny panel meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall on Tuesday.

David Scott, head of education, presented the expansion of secondary sector provision report, which ‘builds on’ five previous cabinet reports on the same subject. The first was in March 2013.

He said: “One of the key areas is forecasting of demand about when and where we will need the additional places to make sure we can fulfil our statutory obligation.”

The first phase of secondary school expansion is planned to start in September 2017.

Thirty new places will be created at Charters School in Sunningdale in 2017 as previously agreed.

Instead of 60 places being created at Furze Platt School in 2016, 30 places will be created at the school in 2017 and another 30 will be created at Cox Green School in the same year.

Dedworth Middle School will be given 30 extra spaces in 2017 and another 30 the following year. Thirty places each at The Windsor Boys’ and Windsor Girls’ School will be also created in September 2017, rather than 2016.

Mr Scott said the forecasts of school places needed is ‘refreshed on an annual basis’ using data drawn from sources including live births, numbers of people registered with GPs and housing forecasts.

The project would take seven years to complete and be funded through a Government Basic Needs Grant and developer contributions – also known as section 106 money.

Funds to meet a £6.6m shortfall need to be found and are expected to come from council capital funds and future developer contributions.

The panel agreed to support changes to the expansion programme but chairman Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and the Walthams) said the new places were only a short-term fix and a new school would need to be built in the area at some point.

Speaking after the meeting David Scott said ‘schools will eventually run out of space’ at which point the  council will consider building a new school.

He added: “We don’t believe we’re at that need yet.”

The panel also heard the idea of a satellite grammar school in the borough had been put on hold as the government had not made a decision on a pilot scheme in Kent.

The report will now go to the Royal Borough cabinet for approval.

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