Green light for financing of new through school

Essex County Council. Photo: ANDRA MACIUCA.

Essex County Council. - Credit: ANDRA MACIUCA

A new reception class will be ready to open by September 2021 after Essex County Council gave the green light for the financing of a new through school in Dunmow.

But the class will be housed in temporary accommodation at the existing Helena Romanes secondary school for one year while a new  “learning village” in Buttleys Lane is being built ahead of opening in September 2022.

The school, just off the A120, will eventually be capable of educating more than 2,000 children aged five to 18.

The secondary school and sixth form accommodation – to be built at the same time as the £10m ECC-funded primary school –  are to be funded by the Saffron Academy Trust through sale of the existing school site for development of around 200 homes.

The latest forecast from Essex County Council’s 10 Year Plan for Meeting the Demand for School Places in Essex 2020-2029 shows a growing demand for primary places in Great Dunmow over the next 10 years – a shortfall in reception places in 20/21 increases to a shortfall of 115 by 29/30 if nothing was done.

The forecast shows that in the longer term, 2027 and beyond, another primary school will be required in Great Dunmow, ECC has said given the speed at which the town is growing.

County councillor Susan Barker, who represents Dunmow, welcomed the new funding agreement made at ECC cabinet meeting for almost £10m for the primary element of the new learning village and associated temporary accommodation for the new primary element at the current HRS site for the 2021/22 academic year.

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She said: “I very much welcome this and also the early delivery of reception school places next year.

“Dunmow is bursting at the seems for reception places – many school have had to take extra classes so this provision is very welcome.”

Growth in the area has come about through significant new housing to both the east and west of the town.

A new education site, as part of a large housing development to the west of Great Dunmow, is the only currently available option to meet the extra demand for primary school places.  St Mary’s in Dunmow has had to increase its intake from 60 to 90 children for each of the past two years to accommodate an increase in the number of children needing a place in Dunmow.

Cabinet member for education Cllr Ray Gooding: “We need primary school places desperately so this paper gives a quite an innovative way of achieving that in a number of stages so that we can deliver the much needed places in September 2021 for new starts in education but also enables us to meet the growing demand that is coming up in the next few years. Dunmow has seen quite significant development and so this really good news.”