04:28PM, Thursday 18 March 2021
The Maidenhead primary schools which have been earmarked for potential expansion by the council have praised the plans.
With the town’s population projected to rise, the council has launched a consultation setting out ways to increase the number of primary school places in the town.
The four proposals include potentially expanding four of the town’s primaries: St Luke’s Primary, St Mary’s Catholic School, Larchfield Primary and Lowbrook Academy, potentially doubling some of their intakes.
The schools have come out in support of the plans, and Dave Rooney, executive principal at Lowbrook Academy, which failed in a bid to expand in 2017, called the plans a chance to ‘finish what we started.’
He said: “The biggest benefit will be to the children. We are a popular school and every year we have children in our community who don’t get offered a place.
“When you are down at 30 children per year group, sometimes we even have siblings (of existing students) who don’t get in.”
Dave Rooney, executive principal of Lowbrook Academy. Picture taken before lockdown.
As well as Lowbrook, St Lukes Primary and St Mary’s Catholic School would increase from 45 to 60 places per year group and Larchfield Primary would double in size, going from 30 to 60 students per year group.
Meanwhile, Lowbrook Academy boasts four year groups of 60 students and three year groups of 30, but under the proposals would grow to 60 students in each year group.
Back in 2017 it submitted similar proposals to construct a new building that would have enabled it to switch to full two-form entry, but was ultimately unsuccessful in its bid.
Mr Rooney said: “As with any business or school, you have to accept decisions when they don’t go in your favour, we have put that behind us, and are backing the new plans.
“The decision last time was that they weren’t going to fund us, but now we can finish what we started.”
Although the expansion proposals are being backed by the schools, they are not being supported universally.
Concerns have been expressed that school pick up and drop off times could cause Maidenhead’s busy roads even more issues if schools take on more pupils.
According to Mr Rooney, most of the parents at his school ‘walk or scoot’ to pick up and drop off children, and praised the ‘kiss and drop’ system for keeping cars on the road to a minimum.
He also added that he thought the best possible outcome would be if all four schools named in the consultation could expand.
He said: “Ideally we’d need all the schools to be expanded, all that are feasible to build.
“We don’t want to be in a situation where children in the borough don’t have a place at all, this is what the borough are looking at for the future.”
The other schools earmarked for potential expansion have also come out in favour of the proposals, with Larchfield Primary revealing plans to build a ‘brand new school’.
Pat Lattimer, chair of governors said: “We welcome this exciting opportunity to expand our school and improve our facilities.
“The plan would be to build a brand new school right here in the heart of Larchfield.
“If this project goes ahead it will be beneficial to our children and their children in the future, but also challenging in the shorter term.
“We are committed to working with RBWM to achieve the best long-term outcome for both our school family and our surrounding community.”
Meanwhile, St Mary’s school also offered its support.
Claire Robinson, chair of governors, said: "We are enthusiastic about the opportunity of sharing our passion for education with more children, within new facilities which have many educational advantages".
St Lukes Primary has been approached for comment.
The council's consultation closes at midday on Friday, April 23. To view the consultation click here.