A new primary school in North Wokingham will take on its first pupils from Key Stage 2 (Years 3, 4, 5 and 6) only next month.
St Cecilia’s Church of England Primary, off Queen’s Road, is being partly opened by Wokingham Borough Council at the start of the spring term on Monday, 9 January.
The move was agreed to meet additional demand in the juniors age group specifically, due largely to the numbers of families currently moving to the area, and will ensure this trend doesn’t put pressure on existing schools.
St Cecilia’s, which will also take on some pupils from other schools, has capacity for up to 90 children at Key Stage 2. It will be run by the Keys Academy Trust, which has been given access to the building with a full tenancy to follow.
Firm action to secure education for every child
The premises have passed a pre-registration inspection by Ofsted while the Department for Education has agreed the decision is necessary. No decision is made on a full opening, which would see capacity increase to 210 including infants’ places, as demand remains lower than expected in other age groups.
As the council announced in March, following completion of the building, St Cecilia’s didn’t open at the start of this academic year because only a very small number of applicants named it as their first preference. Opening would not have been viable and would have affected capacity at other primaries.
However, the authority is monitoring the situation and will make further announcements as soon as there are any updates. The complex includes a 500 sq m community space, for which the council is still considering possible uses and will also keep residents informed as this progresses.
For more information about admissions, email the school.
An unprecedented but necessary step
Cllr Prue Bray, executive member for children’s services, said: “We recognise that opening a school in the middle of an academic year is highly unusual, as did the Department for Education, but they agreed this was necessary to relieve pressure on a highly specific type and number of school places.
“We’re very pleased that this is going ahead, so that these children can enjoy the high standard of education they deserve, but would like to assure residents that there is still no need to fully open the school because there still isn’t the demand at this point.
“Our aim remains to offer all local children the opportunity to be educated in the area where they live and we’d like to thank Ofsted, the Keys Academy Trust and the Department for Education for their help in enabling us to continue working our very hardest towards that.
“We look forward to announcing a full opening at St Cecilia’s when the time is right and are confident that the trust will build on the solid track record it has established running eight other highly successful and popular schools in this borough.”
Hester Wooller, chief executive of the Keys Academy Trust, said: "We have always worked closely with Wokingham Borough Council to bring capacity to the education landscape in the area.
"It is due to our experience in opening new schools that we have been able to respond at such speed to support the growing demand for places for 7 – 11 year olds within the borough and I would like to pass on my thanks to our central team for managing the opening amid the other pressing priorities at this time of year.
"The trust has every confidence in our head of school, Mr Richard Thomas, growing the school at the heart of this new community in Matthewsgreen."
Keeping our costs down to protect services
St Cecilia’s was funded by developers building about 2,100 homes in the North Wokingham major new community, part of the council’s current Local Plan to meet Government housing requirements.
The council is making progress in its efforts to reform the system and secure a fairer quota for the borough in future.
The council recognises that the trust has done all it can to promote the school and attract interest, and it will continue to be included in the borough’s admissions guide and online application portal.
Developers also funded the adjacent neighbourhood centre, which includes a Your Co-op food store that opened in February, and for which part of the school and community centre car park is now open.
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