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Oxfordshire County Council has launched a new consultation on primary school provision in Wallingford and the surrounding areas. Even if you don't have children of school age, your opinion still matters as decisions could affect the future of Brightwell School Ė which, in turn, has an impact on the whole community.

You can find the consultation at

Lynda Atkins, County Councillor for Wallingford and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, writes:

South Oxfordshire District Council formally adopted the South Oxfordshire Core Strategy 2027 Development Plan Document on Thursday 13th December 2012. As most residents will know, the Core Strategy allocates land west of Wallingford (Slade End, known as Site B) for 555 new homes. The developers of this site have started designing a Masterplan, which includes a site for a new primary school. Itís very important that all aspects of the design of the new site involve local people as much as possible, and schooling is part of that.

To inform the planning of the new development, decisions will need to be taken about exactly how to provide enough school places for the additional children who will live in Wallingford as a result of the housing development. One option is to simply build a new 1 form entry primary school within the Slade End development. Catchment areas across the town may need to change to match the new pattern of population and schools, but otherwise the existing schools would stay the same. Under current education law, the new school would have to be an academy. It could not be a county council (community) school; instead the county council would need to recruit an organisation to run the school. The Secretary of State for Education would then need to approve the academy organisation.

During discussions about the proposed development another option has been raised. This is for St Nicholas Infant School to move into new buildings within the Slade End development, and for both St Nicholas and Fir Tree schools to extend their age range to become primary schools. This decision would be made by Oxfordshire County Council, in partnership with the schools, and would require a statutory consultation process.

In either case, there would be a separate consultation process to decide on any changes to catchment areas.

St Nicholas Infant School and Fir Tree Junior School governors have discussed these different options, and would like to find out what parents and other members of the community think before coming to any conclusions. They have asked Oxfordshire County Council to carry out an opinion survey in Wallingford to inform further discussions.

Once the timescale of the housing development is clearer, there will also be full consultation into the proposed options for local schools, which will include meetings where you would be able to discuss the proposal with representatives from the schools and Oxfordshire County Council.

The survey will run until 28th March. Leaflets will be distributed to all parents of children currently at Fir Tree and St Nicholas schools via the schools, and will also be available to collect from St Johnís Primary School and Brightwell School. Information is also available on the Oxfordshire County Council website.

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