Swindon Council?s cabinet took decisions in November which may see the closure of two schools, and the removal of over 600 surplus places in primary schools across West Swindon.
On 1 November the cabinet confirmed an earlier decision to close Windmill Hill and Freshbrook primaries and build a new 1.5 form entry school on the Freshbrook School site and provide a new Toothill Primary School.
A six week pre-statutory consultation started on 8 November and the cabinet will consider the outcomes on 18 January and decide whether to proceed to a statutory consultation on the proposal. This would last until 2 March 2006.
A final decision on turning three primaries into two will be made by the independent School Organisation Committee on 15 March.
The futures of Salt Way and Shaw Ridge Primary Schools are more advanced. On 16 November the cabinet received the report on pre-statutory consultations to close Salt Way and expand Shaw Ridge and agreed to move to the six week statutory consultation on the plan which will end on 3 January.
The School Organisation Committee will then decide on 11 January whether Salt Way closes at the end of the summer term.
Issues not resolved
There are still many, many questions that Swindon Council has yet to answer put by parents and governors over the last 11 months, since local councillors first discussed the subject of reorganising primary schools in public at the West Swindon Area Forum in November 2004.
For example, what is the effect on catchment areas going to be? Will children from Grange Park still be able to go to Tregoze Primary if families in The Prinnells live closer?
How much extra traffic will there be on roads around Shaw Ridge and along Ridge Green itself? Will pedestrian safety problems be sorted out?
Then of course there are the land development issues. The council?s intention for the Salt Way site are still secret. What do they have in mind for the Shaw Ridge site when a completely new school is built for around ?5 million, more housing next to The Bramptons?
The West Swindon experience is an example of several years of arguement across Swindon, as the council focusses on surplus places in diffferent parts of the town.
Below, Steve Spence, chair of governors at Salt Way Primary School, pictured, lists the questions parents there, have been demanding answers to:
1) How many West Swindon pupils are educated in Mobile classrooms? How many at each school?
2) How many Swindon pupils are educated in Mobile classrooms? How many at each school?
3) How many Schools in Swindon are in NEED of rebuilding work that has not been funded?
4) How much LESS than ?4.8M would it cost to move Shaw Ridge School to the excellent premises at Salt Way?
5) What opportunity will there be for parental choice when all of the West Swindon primary schools adjacent to Salt Way are now full?
6) When will primary school catchments in West Swindon be redrawn or withdrawn?
7) In the council?s own survey, Salt Way parents expressed a preference of 1/3 for Brookfield, 1/3 for Tregoze and 1/3 for Shaw Ridge so why have the parental wishes been ignored?
8) Given the parental preferences, the majority of future admissions from the Salt Way area will not want to go to Shaw Ridge so how can expanding Shaw Ridge by 160 places be viable?
9) How will the ?4.8M rebuilding cost of Shaw Ridge be funded?
10) Why have costs doubled in the 4 months since the ?2.4M proposal in July 2005?
11) How much green space and hard play space will be lost at Salt Way?
12) How much green space will be lost at Shaw Ridge?
13) What will become of the land at Salt Way?
14) Has a study into the development options of Salt Way been done like at Freshbrook/Windmill Hill/Toothill?
15) What will be the impact on Cartwright Drive and Ridge Green of an extra 50 cars each morning and afternoon?
16) What will be the Safe Routes to Shaw Ridge School for pedestrians from Middleleaze and Prinnels?
17) What will be the redeployment options for Staff? How many Salt Way staff will be offered a job at Shaw Ridge?
18) What nursery provision is planned at Shaw Ridge?
19) Does Shaw Ridge have the space for a Children?s Centre or extended school? How much additional space will be required?
20) Why plan to cause disruption by educating children in Mobiles adjacent to a building site for 1-2 years when they are in a perfectly acceptable building now?
21) The current school roll has fallen by 100 since the council first made its spurious proposal to close salt Way at the end of December 2005 but that figure does not properly reflect the demand for nursery and school places in the area so why is it being used for planning purposes?
22) Why is the council in such a hurry to evict the children from Salt Way?
23) When will the council tell us what their strategic vision is for West Swindon Schools?
24) What will be done in Middleleaze for the people of Middleleaze to replace the amenity space at Salt Way?
Have you got any answers? Do you have further questions? What are your views? Mail them to: publisher@swindonlink .com