Agenda item

Guy Grandison asked the Executive Member for Children's Services the following question:



Could the Executive Member tell me what the Council is doing to ensure that schools in Earley can keep pace with the growing population at both primary and secondary levels?


Could the Executive Member tell me what the Council is doing to ensure that schools in Earley can keep pace with the growing population at both primary and secondary levels?



The Council has recognised Earley as an area where additional primary school capacity is required. In response we agreed to expand Loddon Primary School by 220 places and are developing a proposal to expand Aldryngton Primary School by a further 105 places.


We will continue to keep a close eye on the balance between need and available places. Need is driven by the number of births to residents, the balance of families leaving and arriving and families living elsewhere who prefer Earley schools.  We know the number of births has been stable, but falls significantly in the age groups that will be admitted to school in 2018- 2019. This will at least partly offset the increase due to families moving into the area. There are no major residential schemes planned in the area so residential growth will not play any significant part in future needs. Our view is that growth is driven by the changeover of housing from older households to younger families and this will be the subject of continuing scrutiny. If applicant numbers drop next spring then we will need to review our expansion plans (above the places being created at Loddon Primary School) to ensure that we are only providing capacity we need.


On the question of secondary school places, we do not see evidence of any immediate need to create capacity. Families in the Earley area have a number of secondary schools within walking distance of their homes. Maiden Erlegh School of course serves Earley residents and continues to be oversubscribed locally. Families also have at least one other school, Oakbank and also other schools, e.g. Forest, Bulmershe and Waingels schools within walking distance and all of these schools have some surplus capacity.


We will however continue to watch the number of available places closely so if new capacity is required it can be planned and done in a timely manner.


Supplementary Question

Thank you for that answer.  Having recently become a father to a little girl it is important to have adequate school places in Earley.  However it is also important to ensure that a level playing field is given to Wokingham schools as Wokingham schools get less money per pupils than other local authorities. What additional action is the Council taking to level this playing field?


Supplementary Answer

Thank you Guy for raising this important issue which has been a hot topic this week, especially in the media. 


We do not feel that we have a level playing field here in terms of funding and unfortunately the fairer funding formula has been pushed back another year.  We continue to be the lowest funded authority per pupil.  Wokingham Borough children only get £4,166 per pupil.  In the City of London they get over double that and across the border in Reading pupils get over £306 more per pupil.  We will lobby the Secretary of State to continue our appeal for fairer funding and I would ask members of the public to continue to battle for more money for Wokingham schools and also our Members to join me in the fight for fairer funding for our children in Wokingham.