Monday, 20 September 2021

Playing fields in use by summer with new £3m school to follow

PEPPARD Primary School’s new playing fields will be in use by the summer, says the headteacher.

The fields are part of the site next to the B481 north of Peppard Common where the school is due to move to.

But they couldn’t be used until there was a footpath from the current site in Church Lane, so the children can walk to them in safety.

Headteacher Nick Steele said: “The trustees of the site gave us permission to use it but the county council said we needed to have a safe footpath, which will cost extra.

“It has taken 18 months to get permission for the footpath but hopefully that is going to be done by April. Then we will be able to use the footpath during the summer term.”

The school, which currently uses the common for sports activities, plans to install a temporary building at the playing fields for use as a changing rooms by September. Mr Steele and a group of fathers aim to raise £5,000 towards the cost with a sponsored 24-hour walk, starting immediately after sports day on June 16.

They will walk 50 miles from the school to Wallingford, along the Thames towpath towards Henley and then go back to Peppard.

The team will comprise Adam Cotton, Ash Gow, Chris Wall, Christian Woodhouse, James Waite, Laurence Wilson, Nic Whitfeld, Richard Bowcott, Simon Taylor, Steve Owens, Tim Cima and Todd Ferguson.

Mr Waite, whose daughters Astrid, seven, and Phoebe, five, are pupils, said: “We realised that most fund-raisers for the school are organised by the mums so we felt we should get involved. I want to see better use of the facilities that are potentially available to the school.”

Other parents and chidlren will be invited to join for parts of the walk.

Mr Waite, 39, a project manager from Highmoor, said: “We want people to come for an hour and walk with us by the river if they can.

“It’s a big physical challenge to make it worthy of the amount we are hoping to raise. It’s a walk but it’s combined with staying awake for 24 hours, which will be quite rigorous for people.”

The walkers hope to raise enough money to also pay for some new PE equipment.

The school was granted planning permission to relocate in 2011 but has not yet found the estimated £3million needed to pay for the move.

Governor Ian Heriot said: “There is a number of avenues of funding we are looking at with the idea of putting together some sort of composite package from a variety of sources. It’s a long-running thing.”

Councillor Steve Harrod, cabinet member for education at Oxfordshire County Council, and the authority’s director of children’s services visited the school last week.

Mr Steele said: “They are going from school to school at the moment and people are saying, ‘our buildings are not fit for purpose’.

“We must be one of the only schools in the county to have a plan and the space. Most places for new schools sites will cost you at least £5million but we already have one. We have full planning permission and it is just the funding we have to arrange.

“I’m hoping there will come a time when the county council will see it as a viable project. I don’t know how to make it more attractive to them.”

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