Swindon Council?s cabinet took decisions in November to close Salt Way Primary School, as part of their efforts to remove over 600 surplus places in primary schools across West Swindon.
The independent School Organisation Committee will meet – the first time since July 2004 – to decide whether Salt Way closes at the end of the summer term. The committee is made up of councillors, school governors, representatives from the church and a member of the public. The membership can be found at: http://ww2.swindon.gov.uk/moderngov/mgMeetingAttendance.asp?ID=1770
Because of the number of objections to the closure plan that have been lodged, the meeting originally scheduled for 11 January has been deferrred until 1 February.
Below, the disposition of the school’s most closely affected by Salt Way’s closure and the pedestrians and traffic routes to Shaw Ridge primary.
But over the last 11 months Swindon Council has been incapable or unwilling to answer the many, many questions put by Salt Way parents and governors as to why the school should close – since local councillors first discussed reorganising primary schools at the West Swindon Area Forum in November 2004, and, following a series of public meetings, announcing the closure of Salt Way during the Easter holidays last year.
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? If they cannot go to Tregoze, what effect will it have on the intake at the other closest schools, Oliver Tomkins infant and junior school and also the two schools in Freshbrook?
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?
Steve Spence, chair of governors at Salt Way Primary School, said, “there are 300 children across West Swindon still being educated in mobiles, which the council is committed to getting rid of. But they want to close down a perfectly good, fit for purpose school at Salt Way, and put up more mobiles at Shaw Ridge to accommodate the 90 or so children if they have to transfer. Does it make sense?”
Steve has listed further questions parents have been demanding answers to:
1) How many Schools in Swindon are in NEED of rebuilding work that has not been funded?
2) How much LESS than ?4.8M would it cost to move Shaw Ridge School to the excellent premises at Salt Way?
3) What opportunity will there be for parental choice when all of the West Swindon primary schools adjacent to Salt Way are now full?
4) When will primary school catchments in West Swindon be redrawn or withdrawn?
5) 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?
6) 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?
7) How will the ?4.8M rebuilding cost of Shaw Ridge be funded?
8) Why have costs doubled in the 4 months since the ?2.4M proposal in July 2005?
9) How much green space and hard play space will be lost at Salt Way?
10) How much green space will be lost at Shaw Ridge?
11) What will become of the land at Salt Way?
12) Has a study into the development options of Salt Way been done like at Freshbrook/Windmill Hill/Toothill?
13) What will be the Safe Routes to Shaw Ridge School for pedestrians from Middleleaze and Prinnels?
14) What will be the redeployment options for Staff? How many Salt Way staff will be offered a job at Shaw Ridge?
15) What nursery provision is planned at Shaw Ridge?
16) Does Shaw Ridge have the space for a Children?s Centre or extended school? How much additional space will be required?
17) 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?
18) 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?
19) Why is the council in such a hurry to evict the children from Salt Way?
20) When will the council tell us what their strategic vision is for West Swindon Schools?
21) 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