Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Families reassured that school’s future is secure

PARENTS have been reassured that the future of Sonning Common’s secondary school is safe.

Concerns have been raised since the Maiden Erlegh Trust, which took over responsibility for Chiltern Edge School in August, announced plans for a new secondary school in north Reading.

The school would be in Richfield Avenue, near Caversham, from where Chiltern Edge currently takes some of its pupils but is still under-
subscribed.

But Mary Davies, chief executive of the trust, said the move would not impact on the Reades Lane school.

She said: “I have spoken to parents and said that we are committed to Chiltern Edge, making sure it is a great school and being a partner there into the future.

“We would not have taken on the school if we were not committed to its future.

“We have already invested in the fabric of the school and my deputy headteacher spends two days a week there. We would not have done that if we were not committed to the children and families in Sonning Common and the local vicinity.”

Miss Davies said the new school was designed to meet a growth in demand in north Reading predicted by data from Reading Borough Council. It is estimated that another 1,000 secondary schools places will be needed by 2025/26.

In the summer, the council ran a public consultation on the idea of a new school on land west of the Rivermead leisure centre and bordering Thameside Promenade.

The free school would open in September 2021 with 900 places.

The trust, which was established in 2014, is preparing to apply to the Department for Education to be the provider of the school. Miss Davies said: “It’s important to stress the DfE has not yet approved Reading having another school.

“Reading Borough Council has done its analysis and there is going to be a need for more school places. We have seen the research data and it clearly shows there is a growing demand for places.”

As well as Chiltern Edge, the trust is already responsible for two other secondaries — Maiden Erlegh School in Earley and Maiden Erlegh School in Reading — as well as Great Hollands Primary School in Bracknell.

It took over the Sonning Common school just over a year after it was rated “inadequate” by the education watchdog Ofsted and placed in special measures.

Chiltern Edge is now deemed to be improving under headteacher Moira Green, who joined in June last year.

The trust has already paid to renovate two science laboratories which had not been used for two years until the start of the new academic year last month.

The school also has a new
uniform, which includes the Maiden Erlegh griffin logo, and a new
website.

A new external CCTV system has been installed to improve security and a new visitor management system will be introduced to improve safeguarding procedures.

Miss Davies said: “We are very excited by the potential of this
project.

“Our ultimate aim is to create a school with, and for, the local community that responds to the ambitions of local stakeholders, including local schools and businesses.

“The Maiden Erlegh Trust will listen carefully to the local community, in the same way we did when establishing Maiden Erlegh School in Reading.”

The Reading school, which opened in September 2015, was rated “good” by Ofsted in June.

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