Homes will lead to 630 new Aldershot school placesBy Amy Taylor
December 18, 2012
A PLAN to provide more than 600 places for an influx of primary-age students into Aldershot has been approved.
The plan to create a school on the Aldershot Urban Extension (AUE), known as Project Wellesley, has been approved by Hampshire County councillors, firing the gun on a borough-wide consultation on how to place the facility.
Some 3,850 new homes on the AUE site will prompt an urgent need for 630 primary places by 2015.
With the first phase of Project Wellesley expected to be submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council next week, the countdown is on to make sure Aldershot’s schools are not put under more pressure.
The need will either be met by a new primary school, as near to the AUE site as possible, or by extending nearby secondarys such as The Connaught School to include four to 16-year-olds.
This has never been done in Hampshire but the Westgate School in Winchester plans to expand in 2014, the first in the county to offer education across these age groups.
A report for councillors said: “It will not begin admitting pupils into the primary phase until September 2014, four-to-16 education in Hampshire is not yet a tested model, although excellent examples exist in other parts of the country.”
If the Connaught School were expanded, it would be given two sets of admission numbers – one for pupil numbers from four to 11 and another for secondary levels.
Pupils could stay on for secondary school or look elsewhere. This would account for 90 places.
Hampshire’s executive member for children’s services, Cllr Roy Perry, said: “New primary places could be provided through a new primary school or newly built provision as part of the catchment secondary school by changing the school’s character to create four to 16 all-through provision.
“Consultations will be needed to deal with the second phase of primary education provision for AUE, anticipated in 2020.” The report added: “New primary provision will need a catchment area. This will be considered after consultation with schools and interested parties, with the intention children attending the new primary provision on the housing development would live within walking distance.”
Resources for pupils with social and communication difficulties will be made a priority, with the report accepting it is already limited in Aldershot, and could become more stretched once the AUE is fully-functional.
This will be addressed during the first phase of the primary provision in 2015.
According to the report, there would be no difference in cost for the two options, though if other realistic options were suggested over the next few months of consultation, these would be considered alongside those discussed at council.
A detailed consultation document will be prepared and made available ahead of talks with parents, staff and governors at local schools, where ‘proposals for viable alternative options’ will be heard.