The opening of the new primary school in Matthewsgreen, Wokingham, will be moved back due to delays and continuing risks caused by Covid-19.
The pandemic has delayed many construction programmes across the country, including this school and the new homes it has been built to serve.
Despite the best endeavours of all involved the completion of the school has been delayed until after the start of the new school year in September.
Opening the new school in 2021 in these circumstances would create a range of risks to children and their education that the council sees as unacceptable.
Deferred to 2022
The council and The Keys Academy Trust, which will be running the school, have reviewed the risks around opening in 2021 and have agreed that opening should be deferred until 2022.
Opening in September would mean the contractor actively working on site for a period of time while children were using the school. In normal times, opening the school with the contractors on site may have been acceptable, provided that a safe environment could be achieved and conflict with construction activity avoided.
However, due to Covid-19, there is an additional risk for the health and safety of the children and staff, even with the best endeavours.
The decision has been made by the council with the support of its partners, The Keys Academy Trust, and the Department for Education to delay the opening of the school. There will be no impact on places in local schools for children living in the area, with places available at other well-established schools which are within close proximity.
What they said
“We’re lucky to have excellent primary schools across the borough which will be able to provide a place close to home for children in the area near the Matthewsgreen site,” said Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services.
“Though it was a difficult choice it is better to know for certain children will be on a safe site where construction work is not ongoing. I look forward to seeing progress on construction at Matthewsgreen continuing ahead of it being due to open next year.”
Hester Wooller, chief executive at The Keys Academy Trust, added: “The Keys Academy Trust has been working closely with the council and the contractors during the last year. We are delighted to have the opening date of September 2022 confirmed and we will be launching the school's website with information about the school and inviting prospective parents to a series of open events in the summer and autumn terms later in 2021.”
All involved in the project for the 210-place school will continue to work on it, with the aim of opening the school in September 2022. Updates will continue to be provided on the project, including the new community centre which is being built as part of it.
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