Godalming Green Oak School closure would ‘further isolate an already vulnerable community’, says borough leader

April 16, 2018
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Waverley Borough Council (WBC) has opposed the possible closure of Green Oak Primary School in Godalming , saying the proposal will isolate a community.

The borough council, which is responsible for planning and building control, said the closure could put families off moving into new developments planned at Ockford Ridge and Aaron’s Hill.

Surrey County Council (SCC) moved to close the school after it received an “inadequate” Ofsted rating in January last year and after “no appropriate multi-academy trust (MAT) has been identified to take the school forward”, despite a promising Ofsted report in November.

It was revealed at a town meeting by Godalming Town Council on Monday (April 9) that Castle Hill Academies Trust, a non-church trust, is hoping to take in the school and save it from closure.

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Green Oak School closure

Julia Potts, leader of WBC, said the proposal to close the Church of England School would “take the heart out of and further isolate an already vulnerable community”.

She said: “The council appreciates the difficult decision facing Surrey County Council and the Diocese of Guildford. However, this area has been ranked very low in the measure of the index of multi deprivation – the 26th worst locality out of 709 in Surrey.”

Julia Potts, leader of Waverley Borough Council, spoke against the possible closure of Green Oak School
(Image: Steve Porter)

She added: “At present, many children walk to the school. If the Green Oak School is closed and the pupils have to move, parents will need appropriate means of transport. Not all parents have cars and the bus service is inadequate for taking children in time to and from school,” said Cllr Potts.

“Extra transport costs will be incurred and considerably more traffic movements on roads already heavily congested at peak times. Therefore Surrey County Council are likely to incur additional costs for providing safe transport for more vulnerable families.”

She said with hundreds of new homes coming to the area, a school was needed.

“Currently, significant redevelopment and regeneration of Ockford Ridge is taking place,” she said.

“Ockford Ridge is a major estate that is served by the school. Admittedly, this has inevitably reduced the school age population in the short term, as many houses are empty at present.

“However, Waverley is investing more than £20million in building new homes and refurbishing almost 200 dwellings on the estate and child numbers will rise.

“The proposal should also be viewed over the medium to long term, given the recent adoption of the Waverley Local Plan (Part 1).”

Many children at Greek Oak Primary School are fighting for their school to stay open
(Image: Darren Pepe)

“This removes land from the green belt which is only 100 metres from the school between Aaron’s Hill and Halfway Lane,” said Cllr Potts.

“This land will unquestionably be brought forward for housing development within the school’s current catchment area. The site is allocated for housing in the emerging Local Plan Part 2 Preferred Options Consultation.”

She added: “At present, this is for approximately 270 dwellings but could increase to 450 dwellings if Guildford Borough Council were to support allocation of the adjacent land through its own local plan.

“New homes will attract new families and, with no local school, families with young children are unlikely to be enthusiastic about moving to Ockford Ridge and Aaron’s Hill. We want to see all ages enjoying a mixed community of social and market housing.

She concluded:”The Green Oak School site is ideally placed to make educational provision to meet the needs of current and future housing in the immediate area.

“If the school were to close then Waverley’s Local Plan policies would be relevant. They seek to resist the loss of key infrastructure and services, including education. Any redevelopment to reuse of the site should include the provision of alternative school provision to meet the needs of the area.”

WBC has written to SCC, formally objecting to the closure.

A Surrey County Council spokesman responded: “We’re listening to what people are saying and will take all their views into account when we consider our next steps.

“But because the school received an inadequate Ofsted rating and no suitable academy trust was found to take over its running we were forced along with the Diocese of Guildford to make the difficult decision of consulting on closing it.”

The county council’s four-week public consultation will end on Monday (April 16). Leader David Hodge will then decide whether or not to close the school from August 31.

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Article source: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/godalming-green-oak-school-closure-14519899


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