Due to expressed concern

Due to the concern expressed by a recent leaflet regarding the expansion of Downview School, I would explain eight years ago this school was a three-form entry primary school with 630 pupils attending, but it currently only has 420 pupils.

The county council is proposing to replace four existing temporary classrooms with more suitable and permanent accommodation to take in additional pupils who, in some cases, are siblings of present pupils.

It is replacing the temporary classrooms on site with more permanent buildings and adding a further seven classrooms to take the total number of 630 pupils back to the original number of eight years ago.

The public consultation document is only the first step in a long process, and if the cabinet member is happy with the principle of the proposals and the educational benefits, there will follow two further periods of public consultation.

These will cover planning and transport issues where the council’s Highways team would need to be satisfied that any plans would not cause significant unmanageable traffic which could affect public health and safety.

If they are not in a position to approve the plans, then they would have to be revised or the project would be unviable.

The county council did secure funding and land from the developers of Site Six to provide a one-form entry primary school, and so the option of an additional school does remain.

However, this would involve a lengthier and more expensive option.

The county has to find additional places to accommodate the children of primary school age in the area.

Downview is an excellent, popular, well-established school and rated as outstanding by Ofsted, with fine teachers and a popular head teacher.

This decision was reached in discussion with other local schools and the option to expand Downview was preferred.

The plan to proceed, if approved and accepted, will not commence until 2015 and thereafter the school will take in 30 pupils per year until the maximum permitted of 630 is achieved.

The whole process will take about nine years to complete.

I appreciate the concern of all residents who have written to me and wish to assure them I have brought their comments to the attention of the cabinet member who will make the final decision.

George Blampied

County councillor