Campaign to reopen ‘old’ Takeley school site amid clamour for primary places

09:29 01 May 2014

Cassandra and Oliver James

Cassandra and Oliver James

Archant

Children as young as four will have to travel by bus for more than four miles to go to primary school, from September.

Parents in Takeley were told on April 16 that their youngsters had not got a place at Takeley Primary School because it does not have the space to accommodate them. Instead, they will have to go to either Hatfield Broad Oak or Elsenham – which is 4.4 miles away.

One mum, Cassandra James, of Garnetts, has now launched a petition to get the former Takeley primary school – Roseacre – which closed when the school relocated to a new site at Little Canfield in 2012, re-opened so that local youngsters can be placed in a local school.

She told the Broadcast: “I never once thought that Oliver wouldn’t get into the school because we are in the catchment area. I cried when I found out. I didn’t realise how big a deal it was until then.”

Mrs James’ son got a second-choice place at Hatfield Broad Oak, but as all his friends have places in Elsenham, she is hoping to move him there. She added: “It is unfair to put children that young on a bus to school. What will happen to them on the other side?

“As there is a school sitting there, it just seems silly for it not to be used. They just need to make sure it is up to scratch and get the extra funding. It will make such a difference because Oliver is going to grow up with these children.

“We just need to get as many people as possible to sign the petition because this problem is only going to get worse. Hopefully if we make a stand it will show others they can too.”

Takeley Primary School, in Little Canfield, has tried to meet demand in the area by opening additional classes, mixing age ranges and relocating to a new 1.5-form entry building that opened in September 2012.

But it is still not big enough. Headteacher Mandy Line confirmed that not a single child from “old” Takeley secured a place.

She sympathised with the parents but has put the problem down to pupil predictions, generated by Essex County Council (ECC), not matching the level of house building that is taking place.

She said: “The school fully understands and shares parents’ disappointment at not being offered a school place at their local school. However the predicted pupil forecasts issued by Essex County Council have not matched the amount of housing development that has taken place in the area and therefore the school was not built with the capacity to cope with the current demand. Our governors are continuing to talk with county to find out what more can be done to alleviate the situation.”

As reported by the Broadcast last month, more than 93 per cent of parents in Essex had been offered their first or second choice primary school.

When asked by this paper if there was a chance of the old school in Takeley being reopened, ECC indicated that it would be possible by 2015 if a successful free school application was made to the Department for Education. The local authority also confirmed it is looking at the old building to provide new provision.

A spokesman for ECC said: “The county council is working with schools in Takeley, Dunmow and surrounding areas to increase provision to meet the predicted increase in demand for places as a result of rising births and new housing. New provision in the old Takeley building is currently being explored as an option.

“Further potential housing development in Takeley will result in the need for additional primary provision in the longer term. New primary provision would be commissioned at the appropriate time to meet future demand from new housing.”

• To sign the online petition visit thepetitionsite.com/360/675/952/re-open-roseacre-takeley-village-school/

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