OCC – Primary School Capaity

The comments from OCC Education as part of the pre-publication consultation indicate they have caught up with what we have been saying through the last three developer appeals.   See below:

The County Council’s current position on primary school capacity in Bloxham is that Bloxham PrimarySchool has been expanded to the full extent of its site capacity, and further population growth in thevillage is likely to mean that not all children who live within the catchment will be able to secure a
place at the school.
Housing already permitted is expected to mean that:
– Children moving in already of primary age are likely to have to travel to another school, with the consequent travel costs and inconvenience to parents;
– The school will have to turn away younger siblings of out-of-catchment children who were able to get in while local demand was lower, with the consequent loss of amenity to existing residents;
– In the smaller villages surrounding Bloxham, which have historically fed to Bloxham Primary School, it is likely that children will need to attend a different primary school, this being made possible by the expansion of that school. (In many cases these villages already lie within shared
catchment areas for both schools.)

Further housing development in the short-medium term would bring a significant risk that even some children living within the village, applying on time for a school place, may not be able to secure a place at the school. This would be detrimental to community cohesion and sustainability.
On these grounds, the county council School Planning team would support the Neighbourhood Plan’s policy on housing need, that only small scale further housing growth takes place in Bloxham in the short-medium term. This situation could change if a feasible and viable solution to expanding
primary school capacity in the village could be provided. The school’s current playing field is owned by the County Council, and should the school need to expand the County Council would work with the school and Diocese to identify options for growth, but such growth would be expected to require
additional site area being provided for the school, adjacent to its current site. Moreover, to enable the school to grow in an increment that is supportive of effective and efficient provision of education, significant additional accommodation for the school would be required, and to fund this
would require a substantial number of additional homes. It should also be noted that the school is already 2 form entry size, and there are no village schools larger than this in Oxfordshire.
The Neighbourhood Plan’s objectives (section 5.2) include “3D. Secure primary school capacity which provides a place within the village for all children from Bloxham and our satellite neighbours”. As Bloxham Primary School is not currently in a situation to expand in an acceptable manner, current plans for additional primary school capacity are focused on the surrounding schools at Hook Norton and Deddington and/or Adderbury. Due to the normal fluctuations in population, it is possible that in some years there may not be sufficient school places within Bloxham for all children from the satellite villages; it is also possible some Bloxham village children may not be able to secure a place, especially if they are late applicants. While the county council would endorse the objective, it notes that it may not be fully attainable, due to the constraints on school size.
As pressure on primary school places has increased in recent years, so can pressure on secondary school places be expected to increase in the next few years. The county council would welcome school_fullsupport in the Neighbourhood Plan for the expansion of The Warriner School in Bloxham

 

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