As part of the debate about the alleged ‘need’ for a new town at Winchfield, a number of councillors have stated that one of the benefits would be a new secondary school, even though the proposed location was between the M3 and the Mildmay Oaks hospital. But what is the evidence we actually need a new secondary school?
Well, it is patchy at best. Hampshire County Council have only planned school places up to 2018. This shows a 9% surplus of secondary school places:
The same document also forecasts a fall in the birth rate across Hampshire (individual forecasts for Hart District are not available). This will reduce future pressure on secondary school places:
Moreover, some 1,533 pupils out of the total 13,436 pupils being educated in Hart District schools come from outside the district. Whereas only 264 pupils (of which 103 are in special schools) from Hart are being educated outside of the district. These figures include 13.6% of Robert Mays and 5% of Calthorpe Park pupils coming from outside the district. Source is an FOI request made to Hampshire County Council.
In communication with Hampshire County Council, I have been told the following about the circumstances that would need to prevail to justify the expense of building an entirely new school:
Again there will be a number of factors to consider before deciding to build a new school to meet increased demand, these including:
- being able to demonstrate that the existing school system (net capacity) is unable to reasonably cope with the increased number of children.
- That the increased demand is sufficient to warrant a sustainable size school (1FE/210 places as a minimum is desirable) in primary and at secondary a school of 900 (180 per year group).
- That where new housing is proposed a suitable size site is secured during the planning process
Moreover, Hart’s own infrastructure requirements list published in October 2014 did not call for a new school:
So, it is far from clear at all that we need a new secondary school. Even if we did need more places, it is not clear that we would need enough to justify the provision of a new 900-place school.
If you would like to make your voice heard, we urge you to respond to the Hart District Council consultation about the Local Plan and ask them to think again. We have created a dedicated consultation page and two guides to responding to the consultation that are available on the downloads below. The comments are designed to be cut and pasted into the boxes provided. It will be very powerful if you could edit the comments into your own words. Please do find time to respond to the consultation and play your part in saving our countryside.
2 Minute version: