Triple school intakes for Caversham Primary and Emmer Green schools
Written by: drobs
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.