A Berkshire school is seeking to erect new gates and fences on the premises as the current ones do not comply with government guidance on safeguarding.  

Wescott Infant School on Westcott Lane has requested planning permission from Wokingham Borough council to install the new safety measures in order to better protect its pupils. 

The present height, condition and open nature of the existing fencing and gates to the boundaries do not secure the site or safeguard the children. 

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The submission states that the current installation “allows for anyone located on the pavement to interact with children in the playground” and the low fencing “presents a major concern” due to the lack of protection afforded to the children.  

Furthermore, the school states that they are “unable to adequately secure the car park and access routes to the school,” which creates a security risk for staff. 

Thames Valley Police officer Daniel Colyer expressed concerns relating to security during visits to the site and advised on reports received from the school in relation to safeguarding measures. 

Secured by Design (SBD), the official police security initiative, states that “the boundary is the first line of defence and should be protected with a secure fence or railings such as weld-mesh fencing or railings over two metre high.” 

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The current 1.2 metre high metal picket fencing, to the southern boundary along Goodchild Road, would subsequently be replaced by the recommended two metre high welded-mesh fencing.  

To the eastern boundary, along School Road, a new 2 metre high combi welded-mesh panel fence would replace the existing low level black powder coated metal picket fencing and continue part way along the south-western boundary - designed to prevent climbing attempts by trespassers. 

The fence would incorporate security-controlled vehicle access gates, having both security control technology and mechanical opening devices. The plan also proposes a single self-closing pedestrian gate fitted with security control technology. 

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Wescott Infant School caters for children from ages four to seven and has approximately 150 children on roll each year, with a private day nursery located within the area of the playground.  

Before 2020 the school was a community school administered by Wokingham Borough Council. It currently has Academy status and is sponsored by the Circle Trust - a charity which oversees some schools in Wokingham. 

The school is required to seek planning permission for the proposed changes as it was designated as a Grade II listed building by English Heritage in 1998. The adjacent school annexe, which houses the nursery, is also appointed as a Grade II listed building. 

The proposal, submitted by the chief financial officer at The Circle Trust, Deborah Briault, will go before the planning committee on June 7th.