PROPOSALS are in full swing to combat an estimated shortfall of 3,000 school places in Bracknell Forest.
By 2018, there is predicted to be a need for 2,083 more primary school places and 895 more secondary school places in Bracknell Forest, according to the council’s School Places Plan for 2013-18.
An eight-page update of how 19 projects which will expand or build new schools across the borough are progressing was presented to the council’s Schools Forum meeting last Thursday.
Explaining the plan, Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard, executive member for children, young people and learning, splits it down into three stages: Firstly, expand existing schools to meet demands for 2015 at the latest, such as at Garth Hill College, Brakenhale and The Pines Primary.
Secondly, target particular areas where school places are likely to grow as housing developments are thrown up such as in Warfield East and West, Amen Corner North and South, the TRL site in Crowthorne and Blue Mountain over the period 2016-19 Thirdly, to expand Special Educational Needs facilities across the borough including in Eastern Road on the site of the former BROC Adult Social Care site which is expected to be completed by 2015.
Cllr Barnard added: “The key challenge is using the government funding we have secured to meet the demands, for which we have had a pretty good track record so far.” Demand for primary school places is expected to grow significantly faster than secondary schools with the projected pupil numbers on roll anticipated to go up by 500 a year up until 2018 compared to 200 per year for secondary school places.
The award of contracts for expanding the sixth form teaching accommodation at Brakenhale School and building a stand-alone sixth form centre at Garth Hill College are set to be rubber- stamped at a council meeting on Tuesday. The projects will cost £1.2m and £7.6m respectively.
Cllr Barnard added: “There is movement ongoing there and we would need to see planning permission put in over the summer to make sure it is ready by 2015.” Regarding Ascot and school places, the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead is in discussions with Bracknell Forest Council over the expansion of Charters School.