Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Junior and infant schools set to merge on one site

TWO schools in Wargrave are set to be merged on one site.

TWO schools in Wargrave are set to be merged on one site.

The governors of Robert Piggott Junior and Infant schools say the move is needed because the current buildings are either in a poor state of repair or unsuitable and the junior school is overcrowded.

Similar plans were drawn up in 2008 but then put on hold due to the recession.

The governors have identified four possible sites for a new joint school as follows:

lLand east of Wargrave.

lLand south of Harvest Place.

lLand south of Braybrooke Road.

lLand west of the A321.

In each case, the landowner has indicated a willingness to sell.

A public consultation meeting will be held later this month to hear the views of the community. Exact boundaries of the sites will be revealed at this meeting.

The governors have been working with Wokingham Borough Council (the education authority), Wargrave Parish Council, the Oxford Diocese and the Piggott Trust and say it is feasible to pay for the new school building “by obtaining the best value” for the current school sites in School Lane and Beverley Gardens, which are owned by the trust.

In a statement, they said: “Since 1999 the junior school has been identified as being in a poor state due to a long patch-and-mend approach to building maintenance.

“Since then the site has reached capacity with the addition of temporary buildings for classrooms, resulting in a small, overcrowded playground.

“At the infant school, three of the five classrooms do not meet size regulations due to changes in government standards. The location of the hall in the centre of the school is also disruptive to two adjoining classrooms due to the structure, design and poor sound insulation.”

The governors say they will take into consideration a number of issues that will influence the final plan of any new school, including:

lContinuity of children’s progress from early years pre-school level to 11-year-olds to provide “joined-up” schooling at child, staff and parent levels.

lAn 8am breakfast to 6pm after-school club provision.

lEco-friendly buildings and power conservation.

lAccess by walking and traffic impact.

lFuture facility demands.

Graham Howe, former chairman of the governors said: “We had three options — to carry on and not act, which would result in aging and unfit-for-purpose buildings, to obtain local authority funding to rehabilitate each site, or to explore the amalgamation of the two schools.”

He said that refurbishing the existing schools to bring them up to current government standards would be difficult as they were not a budget priority for the borough council.

“Using the assets we have to build a new school has stood out as the most sensible option,” said Mr Howe. “This would provide the village with a 21st century school for 21st century children.

“The two existing sites would need to be sold and we anticipate the most value would be to sell them for residential use.

“This would probably mean demolishing the buildings, though there is one developer who has suggested keeping the facade of the junior school.”

The consultation meeting will take place at Robert Piggott Junior School in School Lane, Wargrave, on Saturday, October 26 from 10.30am to 12.30pm.

Mr Howe said: “We are interested in hearing about the facilities people feel should be provided by the new school for the community.

“The feedback received will influence the next steps taken and whether the project proceeds.

“There will also be an opportunity for parents to meet the governors during parents’ evenings at the schools.”

From October 22, information on the project will be available at www.robertpiggott-jun.wokingham.sch.uk

For more information, email the governors at osos@robertpiggott.wokingham.sch.uk

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