1 September, 2014
With Wokingham becoming a hotspot for first-time buyers, veteran landlords and temporary renters alike, the demand for pupil places at local schools is slowly on the rise. As more people move to the area, the higher demand there is for parents to place their children in convenient, reputable schools in the region.
Fortunately, decision-makers had the foresight to anticipate increasing school placement demand and have, as such, approved the development of two new schools in the area.
Montague Park Primary School will be located in the South Wokingham Strategic Development Location (SDL) while a new secondary school will open in Arborfield. The former - which has 420 places for new pupils - will open in September 2015 while the latter will open in September 2016.
Building the schools
There is still some uncertainty regarding the new secondary school, however, because the build's proposal states it could be delivered as a free school or as an academy.
Either way, guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) - found in the proposal - suggests it would cost £17m to build and, overall, is a "viable and necessary" development for the south of the borough. However, the report also adds: "The precise cost of building the school plus acquiring the land is not known at this stage but it is estimated to be £30 million as a likely upper limit."
Furthermore, getreading.co.uk noted that developer contributions would be used to help fund the school.
The two new schools will have to uphold Wokingham's reputation as one of the best areas in the country for education if they are to have a long and prosperous future.
Just this year, all of Wokingham's secondary schools were either declared 'good' or 'outstanding' by Ofsted. This makes Wokingham one of just nine authorities in the country to achieve such a feat.
More specifically, The Holy in Wokingham, The Piggot in Wargrave and Maiden Erlegh in Early were all rated 'outstanding' by the regulator. The Emmbrook and St Crispin's in Wokingham, The Forest in Winnersh, Waingels College and now The Bulmershe, both in Woodley, are all rated as 'good'.
Commenting on the results, Councillor Charlotte Haitham Taylor, executive member for children's services, couldn't hide her joy: "I am thrilled for all the secondary schools in Wokingham borough - giving out young people such great opportunities to excel and grow to equip them with the skills they need to succeed and meet the many challenges of adult life."
When it comes to primary schools, the Aldrygton in Earley and Hawthorns in Wokingham are two of the top rated primary schools in the region. However, oversubscription tends to be a problem with primary schools, even for those living in the catchment area. As a result, news of a new primary school will be extremely welcome for parents looking to give their child a high-quality education.