Over the last four years we have had some good news in terms of new school building in the area. Bohunt, Woodgate and Kilnwood Vale Primary Schools have all been built in their respective developments.
Last week we received the bad news that the proposed 420 place primary school planned to be constructed at the Wickhurst Green development will not be going ahead. I am disappointed by this news as will be Wickhurst Green residents who anticipated such a school in the development.
We are told that the number of children that require a school place is considerably lower than had been expected (this reflects national trends) and that we already have sufficient primary school places in the area.
The very popular Shelley School in Broadbridge Heath has received over £2 million investment to enable its expansion to be a 420 place primary school. In addition, Bohunt will soon be opening its primary school which will make available a further 420 places.
In total there are 11 primary schools in the same West of Horsham educational area as the proposed Wickhurst Green School. All 11 schools are performing well but they have a surplus of places of 10%; meaning there are considerably more school places available of primary school age than there are children that require those places, projections suggest this will worsen in coming years. I know headteachers are concerned about declining numbers of pupils and the pressures this may put on budgets especially if this accelerates.
Whilst I understand the rationale I still have concerns. As such I have written to WSCC and posed two questions. First, are we absolutely certain the demographics are not going to change and that in coming years we will not see a change in the requirements of school places locally. None of us want to forego the option of a well sited primary school only to see the perceived need grow in future years.
The second question I have asked is whether this site can be used for another form of educational provision.
The number of schools must clearly reflect the demand for school places. The establishment of Bohunt among others was very much required and we need to ensure we are providing sufficient places to future proof our education provision