Population growth brings major changes to schools in Faringdon

Oxford Mail: From left, academy director Alun Williams, financial adviser John Banbrook and executive headteacher David Wilson at the Faringdon Community College (Academy) buildings. Picture: OX61336 Greg Blatchford Buy this photo From left, academy director Alun Williams, financial adviser John Banbrook and executive headteacher David Wilson at the Faringdon Community College (Academy) buildings. Picture: OX61336 Greg Blatchford

SCHOOL provision in Faringdon is to change.

New houses in the town mean primary schools are already full and the only secondary school in the area is close to being full.

The plan is to convert both the junior school and infant school in the town to create two new, two-form entry primary schools.

There will be a six-phase redevelopment of Faringdon Community College (FCC) taking it from a 1,100 capacity to 1,450.

There will also be the formation of an eight-school multi academy trust with the college and seven district primary schools.

The current date for the two primary schools to open and for the first new classroom block to be built is September 2017. The scheme is being led by the board of directors of the existing multi academy trust between FCC and the two primary schools, which was set up in April 2012.

John Banbrook, the directors’ financial advisor, said: “The reason the three schools joined together in the first place was Bloor Homes building the estate on Park Road.”

In the past four years, the developer has built 430 homes in its Folly Park estate north of Parks Road, and has now applied to build 300 more on the south side.

“They were obviously going to increase requirement for school places.”

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In order to have more clout in determining future education provision the schools decided to band together.

At FCC, 25 per cent of teaching is currently done in 12 temporary classrooms, including one for pupils with behavioural issues.

Mr Banbrook said: “They are all beyond their useful life. We don’t want children taught in temporary classrooms falling to pieces and we do our best with funding to keep them warm and dry.

“The bottom line is we have got temporary classrooms which are beyond their sell-by date.”

The first phase of the redevelopment would see these replaced with a new £3.5m two-storey block with 12 classrooms.

The school is aiming to submit plans this autumn.

Phase two would be a 22-classroom block and phase three would see the school’s gymnasium replaced with a two or three-storey art and music block.

Beyond that plans are not definite and will depend on funding availability at the time.

Funding will come from a mix of maintenance and capital grants from the Education Department and section 106 developer money, largely from Bloor Homes.

The plan for increasing primary provision is to expand the Junior School at its current site on Lechlade Road, and to replace the infant school with a new one on the Bloor Homes development south of Park Road.

Sometime in the future, those three schools will form a multi-academy trust with five others in the Faringdon area – Buckland, John Blandy in Kingston Bagpuize, Longcott and Fernham, Shrivenham and Watchfield.

Mr Banbrook explained the rationale behind such a move: “Currently pupils at seven different primary schools can be taught the same subject in seven different ways, but if we can bring that together and make it much more consistent that will have a huge impact on their first year at secondary school.”

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