Do you agree that Aldryngton School has successfully accommodated all foundation applicants from within the catchment area from at least 1998 until 2014-15 and that the school has been unsuccessful in accommodating all foundation applicants only in the last two years 2015-16 and 2016-17?
Aldryngton School was proposed for the expansion to ensure that there were sufficient places in Earley; not exclusively on the basis of the increased local demand for that school just in 2015.
The growth in the number of children in the Aldryngton school designated area in 2015/16 and 2016/17 exceeded the number of places available at the school and was without precedent.
This needs to be seen against the backdrop of rising demand in Earley primary school places; fuelled by families moving into the area to take advantage of the excellent education offered by all of our schools. Rather than a temporary shift, we need to be prepared that this is signifying a significant change in the local community.
The first part of the question I felt wasn’t answered actually. Moving from the past and the present and future I would like to ask a question about the demand that would trigger an expansion of the school in the future.
What is the level of long term demand increase that would lead you to decide to spend the £4.8m you need to expand the school?
Going back to your first question first of all there has been significant long term growth in the Earley area over the last 10 years which has led us to expand, as I have mentioned earlier, Hawkedon and the places in Loddon as well by 30 which has led to 50 extra school places. In terms of the long term demand as I said we have seen a trend of needing to build extra capacity. This year we have seen an increase in demand in Woodley so the places that we are recommending for expansion in Highwood and also in Beechwood they have been totally justified by the projections that the Officers have made in the recommendations tonight.
Going away from this evening and looking forward to the next year we will be looking at the data about what has been going on locally in Aldryngton but also in Earley and looking at the trends over the last number of years but also this year in terms of first, second, third and fourth preferences and the movements. There are lots of different data that informs our projections and before a decision is made for next year we will be needing to look really closely at the data but also we will have to wait, unfortunately, for next year’s admission round when we get the numbers in then. Over the Borough we have seen an increase of demand in the admissions of over 100 places so we have seen the numbers going up so we do need more school places and will be taking a closer look at it again. It is not an exact science as we have said but we have to be there ready with new school places when they are needed otherwise we will be diverting more school children out of their areas and, as I have spoken before, for me that is not acceptable.