PARENTS and local residents across Reading are being invited to a series of Let’s Talk Education feedback events in March to hear more about how Reading Borough Council is proposing to meet the rising demand for school places across the town.
The feedback events – which will take place in the north, south, east and west of the borough – is a chance for local residents, parents, schools and any other interested groups to hear about how the Council has taken the views of local communities on board to draw up area by area proposals to provide more school places. It follows on from a detailed consultation last Autumn where local people were asked to have their say.
A national shortage of school places in being mirrored in Reading.
Last year, the Council spent £2million providing an additional 260 places for four-year-olds starting school. Current estimates are that in Reading an additional 12 forms of entry – or 360 primary school places – will be needed every year from September 2013.
Current indications are that 210 of those 360 places will be needed in the west of the borough, 60 each to the south and east, and a further 30 to the north of Reading.
A number of different ideas and priorities have been proposed for each of the areas following last year’s Let’s Talk Education consultation. Several suggestions have been made about where the extra places could come from, each with different strengths. The next phase is to go out to local communities again with these ideas, gather more feedback and help the Council prioritise options which will be taken forward through 2013 and will form the basis of bids the Council will lead to the Department for Education for the recently announced Targeted Basic Need Programme.
The consultation events are:
– Tuesday 19 March 2013, 7:30pm, Wycliffe Baptist Church, 233 Kings Road, RG1 4LS
– Thursday 14 March 2013, 7:30pm, Caversham Park Village Association, Northbrook Road, Caversham, RG4 6PF
– Monday 25 March 2013, 7:30pm, New Directions, 330 Northumberland Avenue, RG2 8DH
– Wednesday 20 March 2013, 7:30pm, Meadway Sport Centre, Conwy Close,Tilehurst, RG30 4BZ
– Saturday 16 March 2013, 10am -3pm 3B’s, Town Hall, Blagrave Street, RG1 1PZ
All residents are welcome to attend any of the events to find out more and have their say. If people cannot attend they can see the options and have their say at http://www.reading.gov.uk/letstalkeducation.
Follow the consultation at http://www.facebook.com/ReadingCouncil or http://www.twitter.com/ReadingCouncil#rdgschoolplaces .
John Ennis, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Member for Education and Children’s Services, said: “The consultation so far tells us that families in Reading trust and value existing schools. People have told us they want access to good primary schools which is predictable year on year but they have also said it is also important to consider other issues when providing planning for school places, including transport, road safety and green space.
“These additional events are now the opportunity for local people to hear about what the Council plans to do to address the rising demand. They are not just for local parents however. The options on the table to provide more school places affect whole neighbourhoods and communities and I would encourage as many people as possible to try and find the time to attend.”
He continued: “Last year Reading received 2,144 children applications for children seeking a place at school for September 2012, which was an increase of 197 pupils from last year.
“While that increase in demand is happening across the country, it is even more acute in Reading as a small and largely urban borough that does not have a large choice of open spaces on which it could consider building new schools. We are working hard to meet that demand, investing more than £25 million over five years and £2 million last year alone, but it is vital we consider the longer term. These consultation events are an important part of that process.”