Oldfield School Move: Arguments for and against

Oldfield School Move: Arguments for and against


Amanda Hall

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Oldfield School Move: Arguments for and against

The future of Oldfield Primary School will be decided at a public meeting tonight.

The Royal Borough wants to push through a controversial £9m plan that would see the school move to a greenbelt site in Bray Road.

Here, the headteacher of Oldfield school argues in his owns words why the move should happen - and a spokesman for the campaign against the transfer says why it should be blocked.

FOR: Oldfield Primary school has to move

Every available space is used to support teaching and learning, writes Headteacher of Oldfield Priamary School Richard Jarrett.

We have 271 children in our school; resources are stretched to the limit.

The kitchen does a remarkable job in catering for over 120 meals a day but with the extra demand is struggling to cope.

We can no longer get all our children in the hall for assemblies, lunchtimes and school events. The hard surface playgrounds are not sufficient for the numbers of children we have here.

Those that oppose the expansion onto Bray Road are of the view that overnight the school can revert back to a one form entry, this is not the case.

If we do not move we will have 270 children until 2018 reverting back to 210 in September 2020! We believe that if we stay here with the extra children and lack of space, standards will inevitably drop. 

It needs to be pointed out that when the school moves to Bray Road the number of children will grow organically to 420 and therefore will not reach capacity until September 2018. This site offers the best solution. Most parents live within a 10 minute walk. Other options would be wholly inappropriate as was decided by Council Cabinet.

The proposed alternative option of Green Lane feels like we are hiding our children out of sight and out of mind. To the south a redundant sewage works, to the east a waste transfer station, to the west an industrial estate and recycling centre with the prospect of a major link road to the north.

I inwardly smile to myself when I reflect on comments made by those in opposition who say we can develop our existing site. They are clearly choosing to neglect the impact and disruption caused when even the smallest changes are made in a school.

I can comment on this from experience following the upgrading of the toilets in 2005 and the re wiring in 2007. Fortunately at that time we only had 180 children attending the school and space available to move children around.

 I am saddened by comments implying that standards will drop if we expand and move. This view is clearly very naïve.  Never underestimate the determination and resolve of my staff. Oldfield has a fantastic group of experienced and hard working adults who have had to adapt to an ever changing situation since 2012.

There seems to be a lot of weight given to what was said (and not said) by the school community in 2011. We are now two years further on and we have 60 children more at Oldfield, nearly 100 children more than the school was designed for. My staff and I believe it is essential that we move to Bray Road!

I trust that the Development Control Panel will make the right decision on the 11th December and consider the needs of the children and families living in the area and make children’s futures the absolute priority.

AGAINST: Bray Road is the wrong place

It must be said Bray Road Action Group is not against a new school, in fact we agree more school places are needed write Bray Road Action Group (BRAG) member Bob McGuiness.

However we are against the Bray Road site when other, far safer and cheaper alternatives are available.

Our reasons:

Traffic Congestion - Bray Road, already a busy 'country road', at peak times takes ages to travel its full length. Outside these times traffic generally travels far faster than the legal speed limit. Up to 550 more vehicles, a right hand turn lane and a sharper bend on the northbound lane all spell disaster. Yellow lines and a zebra crossing, urbanisation of greenbelt
  • Health and Safety Risks - building on zone three with 'very high risk' from ground water flooding has to be considered irresponsible. Environment Agency guidance is explicit – 'where a viable alternative exists permission should be refused'. The Bray Road site is technically unsound and in conflict with National Planning Policy (Mar 2012)
  • Eight Hundred Children – all these small folk within a mile brings many dangers to all concerned
  • What real thought to the future – it appears little thought has gone into the long-term planning. Stafferton Way, for example, seems to be disregarded. Any new housing development not accounted for
  • Alternative sites - several are available, both Green Lane and Braywick would be safer. Green Lane is completely feasible and deliverable for a one form entry (1FE) school. Keep Oldfield as it is
  • Year to Build –complete disruption, day in day out, to all Bray Road users for  a year-plus with many heavy lorries resultant mess and chaos to the surroundings. A 1FE school on Green Lane would add no more than eight months

  • Accident Risks – must be heightened given the busy road. Parents park and chat, especially at home time. Cars everywhere, it can only be a matter of time before some-one is injured or worse. Council has not looked at actual traffic counts or realistic queuing for right hand turning cars
  • Harm to the environment - damage to the environment is irreparable. Loss of trees, hedges, wildlife and greenbelt. Environment Agency objections not overcome but ignored by council
  • Education - it seems, takes second place to expediency. Surely it is better to have our future generations taught in small, safe, traffic free environments where no-one fears for well being each and every time a child steps outside the protected area. Ofsted ratings only reflect the current staff, teachers and status, it is therefore transitory!
  • Avoid mistakes – the greenbelt will be destroyed forever. Councillors seem determined on the Bray Road site, come what may. We ask why when other, better, options could cost up to £4m less?
  • Decision flawed - the panel were not satisfied at the last meeting. More questions were asked and this has to tell its’ own story

In conclusion, despite all the reports in recommending the Bray Road site, when the first accident happens councillors will stand back and blame the reports. For goodness sake let common sense prevail.


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