New school at Paston Reserve/Manor Drive is just a “buffer”

What’s this to do with?

At a meeting of the Council’s Children and Education Scrutiny Committee, on which I sit on as the Lib Dem rep, we were told that, the new secondary schools at Hampton Gardens and Paston Reserve “…would provide a buffer to the additional capacity required in the City.”

The report also stated that, there “.. is currently a shortage of school places in Peterborough.”

You may remember that the Tories at the Town Hall chose to close schools like John Mansfield and Bretton Woods in 2002, despite warnings from councillors at the time!

What does Darren think?

Put simply, I think this is Council phraseology to say, when it comes to school places in the city, we are up a certain creek without the required paddle!

The Tories are looking for any excuse to try and justify their terrible decision to close secondary schools in Peterborough over a decade ago.

It seems that no planning was done, no one envisaged an increase in the population, or the need to have sufficient school places, despite some at the Council crowing about “growing the right way!

The biggest worry of course is the impact this has had on several generations and how it will affect pupils in Peterborough over the coming years.

Interestingly at the same meeting, the Tory leader of the Council tried to say that the decision to close secondary schools such as John Mansfield and Bretton Woods taken in 2002, was due to a Government directive and enabled the local authority to bid for money to improve existing school buildings – That’s a new excuse for me regarding the derisory decision!

Worth noting …….

  • At the same meeting the Council said they intended to undertake a review of the Primary schools estate, schools such as Norwood and Gunthorpe were being assessed for expansion.

Given the problems with parking at these two schools already, I suspect nearby residents will be concerned about any possible increase in pupil numbers?

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Just 23% of pupils at The Voyager Academy scored A*-C grades in English and Maths!

voyager school

What’s this to do with?

Well basically, it relates to the recent news that the Voyager Academy has been taken over by the Thomas Deacon Academy Education Trust.

The academy had been run by the Cam Academy Trust.

You may remember that the school had previously been placed in to special measures?

It is currently rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted.

My thoughts are ……

Back in 2003, Liberal Democrat and Liberal Councillors, publicly opposed the Tory plans which included closing down local schools and amalgamating Bretton Woods with Walton Comprehensive.

I have serious doubts about the practicality of a school serving both Bretton and Walton – they may appear close on the map, but that it illusory. – Cllr Spencer (2003)

The real shame of course here, is all the pupils over recent years, living in the areas of Walton, Gunthorpe, Werrington etc who have not received the support they deserved.

A bad decision by the ruling Tory elite at the Town Hall has sadly come back to bite them on the rear, and given students a knock back as they try to develop their own career.

Don’t forget….!

As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so please do feel free to post a comment below!

New Schools located at Manor Drive, Gunthorpe, will open ……

 

Manor Drive

During our door knocking exercises this year, one of the big questions from residents living along or just off Manor Drive relates to what is happening with the plan to build schools at the location.

So at a previous Full Council meeting I stood up and asked the Leader of the City Council what they had planned.

He told me that the Paston Primary, which includes 1 Form of Entry (i.e. 210 pupils) has an estimated opening date of September 2018, while the Paston Secondary School, which will have a maximum of 8 Forms of Entry (1200 pupils + a 6th form) is targeted to open September 2019.

You might also remember reading about how the Council went back on their original agreement to provide a certain percentage of affordable housing in the Manor Drive area?

The reason they did this is because they were desperate for a new secondary school and therefore wavered the affordable housing provision in lieu of the provision of land for a new secondary school.

Don’t forget that the same Tories who closed down HoneyHill, Bretton Woods etc are the ones now desperate for school places!

Then of course …………. there’s the question of how will the City Council ensure that the area isn’t invaded by parking parents at certain times of the week?

Wasdale Gardens

Councillor confronts cabinet member over “significant pressures on the school system”

The chart shows the growth result from rising birth rates and how they are impacting upon primary schools.

At the latest meeting of the Creating Opportunities and Tackling Inequalities Scrutiny Committee local LIB DEM ward councillor Darren Fower, asked the Tory Cabinet Member for Education, what he would say to those who suggest his decision to close schools like Honeyhill and Bretton Woods, was a mistake given the city’s expected shortfall over the next few years?

Commenting, Cllr Fower said:

“Cllr Holdich is always keen to talk about the millions his council has been handed or borrowed to try and rectify the schools shortfall scenario, but ask him about his ill judged decision to close and in some cases replace schools with supermarkets and he’s not quite so bold in his response. Basically, his argument is that he would have need a magic ball, but surely growth in population is something that we all expect with each passing year?”

Details in the report presented to the committee it states:

* “..the last 4 years have seen a significant increase in pupil numbers within the city.”
* “Since the 20th July, over 1,300 applications for school places have been received.  80% are new arrivals to the city.  This growth from outside the city equates to 2 large primary schools or 1 secondary school. ” – So basically about the same as what you closed???
* Under the Tory controlled city council “…we are now below the 5% surplus threshold on all year groups in the city with significant pressures in Year 1 and Year 11.”
* The present growth in pupil numbers “…is placing significant pressures on the school system in Peterborough.”
* Despite already spending millions of taxpayers money on school extensions etc The Tory controlled council “anticipate” they’ll need around £117m in the next 9 years to keep pace with  demand creating in excess of 6,000 places!
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