Whilst there is undoubtedly a demand for a new school within the borough, and the news that one is to be built is cautiously welcomed, there are a couple of things that trouble me.
I would have preferred to see a comprehensive rather than a free school built, although I do understand that since the Tories have had their hands on the education system the local authority’s hands are tied in what they can do. Still, the parlous state of education under the Tories is laid bare for all to see.
The site chosen leaves me wondering. The areas of largest growth in the borough do not include St Laurence ward, which actually is the ward with the second smallest increase between 2001 and 2011 (https://warelane.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/cramming-them-in-in-milton/). The town centre has the wards with the largest growth, and therefore demand for new school places.
Putting the school away from where the greatest demand is does not seem like intelligent thinking to me. The town centre has just the one secondary school, and this one selects based on faith.
Whilst suitable sites in the town centre are scarce, they do exist. (For instance, Warrior Square and the old gasworks.) If we are have to force our students to travel to the edge of town, then maybe we need to review planning policy. Cramming more homes into the town centre without regard to infrastructure (and schools are part of infrastructure) is not clever either. We ought to encourage more development in St Laurence ward, giving the new school a genuinely local catchment.
Of course, if the four grammar schools and two faith schools took their intake entirely from with the borough then a need for a new school would evaporate entirely.