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Conservative Group votes against Lowbrook Academy expansion

Grace Witherden

Grace Witherden

Conservative Group votes against Lowbrook Academy expansion

Desperate parents hoping to see an oversubscribed primary school expand had their hopes dashed last night (Monday).

As councillors gathered for the beginning of an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Borough Local Plan last night (Monday), council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) announced the Conservative Group had voted against expanding Lowbrook Academy.

Parents at the school have been campaigning for the funding since it was announced the school, in The Fairway, would only be taking 30 students next year, instead of 60.

Cllr Dudley confirmed a vote would take place by secret ballot at a Conservative Group meeting, held before the extraordinary meeting, and he would be recommending it for approval.

Last night parents stormed out of the extraordinary meeting after he said the group had not voted in favour of expansion.

He said he did not anticipate the group decision, but a report would be published today (Tuesday) and discussed at full council next Tuesday for a formal decision.

In a statement released today, Dominique Du Pré, the school's chairman of governors, said; “Naturally we are extremely disappointed following the result of yesterday’s private Conservative Group vote. However, next Tuesday remains an important date for Lowbrook Academy as the full council will meet to decide whether additional funding will be made available to progress the proposed Lowbrook Academy expansion.

“We continue to champion the needs of this community and to lobby the support of elected members; it is now in the hands of the full council to vote to back this build.”

A report about the expansion was published on the borough website today, stating the total project cost is likely to be £2,475,500, which is an increase of £775k.

It states the council originally agreed a budget of £1,600,000 and £200k contingency which would allow the school to become a two-form entry.

Last week, parents at the school met with Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the funding issue.

Speaking at the meeting last night, Craig Monks, a parish councillor and parent, said: “Tonight not only were the children of Lowbrook let down. This change in policy now sets the new order for every school expansion vote. All schools will be at risk. The situation has also insulted the importance of an opposition within the Borough and left the Prime Minister looking very foolish.”

The council will discuss the report on Tuesday at the Town Hall at 7.30pm.

Visit www.rbwm.gov.uk to read the officers report.

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  • Johnny

    14:02, 23 June 2017

    £2.7m investment for 30 extra kids. Seriously? Imagine what the other schools in the area could do with that kind of money. Wessex Primary is literally a 5 minute walk away.

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  • ben_jaz14

    09:09, 22 June 2017

    I hope the Councillors would re-consider there decision after they have had more time to go over the facts and figures. Lowbrook is an out standing school, and by making it a two-form entry school, it give parents more choice with in Cox Green.

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  • Jwiggles

    22:10, 20 June 2017

    So disappointed with last nights decision on the expansion, it not only affects the current children at the school, but those who were promised a place in the 60 PAN who are now going to be split from their siblings, and for all future school expansions. This is a logistical nightmare for us and we just cannot be at two schools at the same time. These councillors really don't look at the bigger picture... Why can't they see this outstanding school desperately needs this expansion?! The library is in a container in the carpark and the staff room is being used as a classroom as they just don't have the room anymore! ALL the children need this, and they need this NOW. Stop dragging this out RBWM, please.

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    • Johnny

      20:08, 23 June 2017

      All siblings in catchment will still get a place this year, those who miss out are those out of catchment (read the report). The size of hall Lowbrook want is nearly twice the size of the one in Wessex (which is 5 min walk away, rated good by Ofsted). Most other primary schools in the borough which have 60 intake a year have halls similar size to Wessex also. The solution is simple, take the money originally promised, build a normal size hall, stop playing hardball with the council, and relying on hysterical parents to put pressure on them. What I find shocking is getting begging letters from my school because of funding cuts, then seeing the council spending millions of pounds on a school down the road. Simply take the 1.6 million originally promised and spend it on other schools.

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