The council’s Executive agreed yesterday (7 March) to spend £6.7 million over a three year period in the initial stages of a longer programme to expand three borough secondary schools – Piggott, St Crispin’s and The Emmbrook – to meet an increase in the number of pupils entering secondary school for the next five years.
The number of children in the borough who will be entering secondary school in 2022 and 2023 is higher than there are currently places available in Wokingham borough’s ten secondary schools. The increase in the number of places needed is temporary, with the number expected to drop back down to last year’s levels by 2028.
The council has agreed with Piggott, St Crispin’s and The Emmbrook schools to a number of improvements and additions, including installing high quality modular buildings later this year, to allow for additional capacity in line with year-by-year needs.
The funding will come from several sources, including a grant from the Department of Education and developers’ contributions from new housing in the borough.
Cllr Graham Howe, executive member for children’s services said: “Wokingham borough is a great place to raise a family, and our schools are top notch. Because of this, our schools are in high demand and we have a shortage of places. We have been working with the borough’s schools to find the best way to accommodate the increase in demand, which is to expand this year at Piggott, St Crispin’s and The Emmbrook.
“Expanding Piggott, St Crispin’s and The Emmbrook schools will meet the current need, and the strategy will help us determine how to meet future need.”
Ginny Rhodes, executive headteacher of The Circle Trust, which The Emmbrook and St Crispin’s belong to, said: “The Circle Trust is delighted to work in strong partnership with the Local Authority and keen to support the need for additional places. The Emmbrook and St Crispin’s are both popular and oversubscribed schools and so we are especially pleased to offer extra capacity. The very substantial capital investment in both schools is absolutely “game changing” and will much improve the educational experience of both our current and future students.”
Derren Gray, headteacher of Piggott School, said: “The Piggott School continues its commitment to working with the Local Authority to meet the local community’s need for places at the school in current and future years, and welcomes the announcement of this investment in the school estate.”
The council’s Executive also agreed a secondary (11 to 16) school places strategy, which looks at school place planning, including modelling future trends and forecasting numbers, and sets out options to meet future demand. The council consulted on the draft strategy in autumn 2021.
For more information, see the Executive report on the council’s website at wokingham.gov.uk and searching for the agenda reports pack for the Extraordinary Executive meeting on 7 March.
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