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Triple school intakes for Caversham Primary and Emmer Green schools

Written by: drobs

20 April 2012 22,392 views 7 Comments

When the primary school places are announced tomorrow, both Caversham Primary and Emmer Green are to have triple intakes; 3 classes or 90 children instead of the usual 2 classes and 60 children. Caversham Primary is doing so because its previous triple intake leaves after the summer term. For Emmer Green school, this is the second year running it has happened.

Caversham Primary only has the capacity to take a triple intake every seven years but why has Emmer Green been made to take a triple intake for the second consecutive year? What about other schools in the area, such as The Hill?

Our sources have advised that it is Reading Borough Council’s intention to turn Emmer Green into a school that takes a triple intake every year. As a parent of Emmer Green pupils this concerns me very much on a number of levels. The initial concern is where will the additional pupils be housed? Last year, an extra portacabin was brought in to hold two classrooms.  This was positioned next to the existing reception area and on part of the school playground, clearly meaning less playground space. I understand that one of the classes of the current reception class will occupy what was the music room.  This year’s triple intake will obviously occupy the current triple capacity reception area, but what will happen next year? Where will the new reception children move to, what will give what for the new classes and what will happen if the school becomes are permanent triple intake school?

The capacity will need to be increased and we have heard that the plan is via more portacabins, either at the expense of the playground or some of the playing fields. I personally hope that this will not happen. The playing fields are a tremendous asset of the school, which recently lost a chunk of them to the expansion of the neighbouring Emmer Green Surestart centre. We should protect the playing fields.

We have heard that Reading Council is only going to give extra per captia funding for the additional pupils but will not fund the upgrading or improvement of existing facilities, such as the school hall. More pupils into the same space and existing facilities can only be to the detriment of existing and future pupils. Emmer Green cannot and should not turn into a triple intake school. Reading Council needs to urgently address the shortfall in school places in the area. It was supposed to build a new school but has not done so.

We have heard that, rather naively, the Council expects this to be a short term spike in demand, which will fall off in a few years. If the Council wants to reduce or cap demand on school places, it needs to stop granting planning consent for new homes in the area. In addition to the big Buggs Bottom development during the mid 1990s, in recent years we have seen many developments in the Caversham area, most of which fall within the Emmer Green catchment area. These include ‘back garden’ developments in Kidmore Road, Hemdean Road, Grove Road, Peppard Road and Grosvenor Road. Most of these new homes are for families, which will naturally increase demand for school places. We have also seen more families moving to the area choose Caversham and Emmer Green because of its reputation for some of the best primary schools inReading.

Reading Borough Council needs to urgently make plans to adequately deal with increasing demand for primary school places, preferably by the building of a new school. I do not want to see Emmer Green school suffer purely because the Council sees it as an easier or cheaper option.

7 Comments »

  • Matt Carey said:

    What the council should have done was build the new primary school at Bugs Bottom/Mapledurham Playing Fields years ago. The council can easily push through the planning rules it needs when it really wants to, and they should have done so in that case. A new school with a double intake would have taken 60 children out of the overspill trying to attend Cav Primary, Emmer Green and The Hill. It would also have evened up the catchments slightly, meaning just about all children got their respective catchment school.

    I live in the middle of Cav Primary catchment and we didn’t get a place for our children, so we go out of catchment (to Sonning Common). If the council looked long term at stopping the catchment scramble that currently goes on in Caversham this wouldn’t be an issue.

  • drobs (author) said:

    Completely agree with you.

    I feel the Council is burying its head in the sand and hoping the problem will go await. In reality I expect it will get worst.

    A few years ago they were talking about bussing children from Caversham Height/Emmer Green to Micklands – not really what a 4 year old needs when starting school.

    More family homes in the area will clearly lead to a greater demand for school places.

  • Matt Carey said:

    “A few years ago they were talking about bussing children from Caversham Height/Emmer Green to Micklands – not really what a 4 year old needs when starting school.”

    Interestingly, I understand back in the 70s/80s that is exactly what happened as the catchments were different. An old lady who lives in Chazey Road, said her children went to Micklands. If you lived in Caversham Heights that is where you went and the council bussed all the children over.

    It will definitely get worse, especially as the council are saying there will be an intake peak in 2014. At the recent Council session they said they would also push funding out of county to schools just over the border (e.g. to Oxfordshire), to help them take more children (the Reading overspill). A very naive idea in reality. Sonning Common Primary for example, has for a long time been the overspill school for Cav Primary, Emmer Green children who didn’t get in and whose parents didn’t want them to go to Micklands or Thameside. That will be stopping soon as a new development is going up on Sonning Common soon, and potentially all the catchment places will go locally. What happens to the overspill then?

  • ashleigh macfarlane said:

    Hi – I am a parent of a child at emmer green and it seems that pretty much nobody is happy about this situation. I lived with the triple intake last year, just hoping it wouldn’t happen again, but this year feel compelled to do something to stop it happening in subsequent years. Not sure where to start though!

  • drobs (author) said:

    Everyone that is uphappy should let the school and the council know.

    Avril Wilson is the director of educaton, social services and housing at the council. Po box 2624, Reading, RG1 7WB.

    Or you can log a complain via the council website’s communication form.

    The contact on the letter parents received from the school is myles.milner@reading.gov.uk direct dial is 0118 973 2904.

    You can also voice your concerns to the local media, such as the Evening Post.

  • Abigail Manson said:

    Hello – I am another parent of a child at Emmer Green primary and I am very concerned about the impact this is having on the school on many levels. The traffic and parking situation is getting absolutely ridiculous. Yes today is a particularly wet day (but let’s face it we have many of them)- it took us 50 minutes to drive to school and find somewhere suitable to park. We live about as far away from the school as is possible within catchment, as will many of the ‘bulge year’ pupils. It is just too far to expect a 4 year old to walk before and after a long day at school so I’m sure most parents will drive. Some people are parking in a hazardous way and I am genuinely concerned that an accident is inevitable.

    Emmer Green is a wonderful school and we are very grateful to have benefited from the extra class being provided last year. Sadly, it just doesn’t feel like the current infrastucture can cope with the increasing volume.

  • Frank Willis said:

    Well I suppose everyone will have a reason for having to drive (rather than walk) their kids to school, won’t they?

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