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Winchester schools catchment areas set for overhaul
A MASSIVE shake-up of primary and secondary school catchment areas in Winchester is planned to cope with the pressure on places.
education chiefs are expected to go out to public consultation on proposed changes later this autumn term.
No details are yet available but it is understood the boundary changes will involve all primary schools in Winchester city and the three secondary schools.
The revised catchments will come into force in September 2014 when a new primary at The Westgate opens its doors to reception pupils - and becomes the first county-run school for children aged four to 16.
One-in- ten reception children in Hampshire are starting schools this week which were not their parents’ first choice although no child is without a place.
Winchester has among the biggest squeeze on places with 17 per cent allocated second or third-choice schools.
Dozens of primary school pupils in Winchester city – and hundreds across the county - will be taught in temporary classrooms as council bosses had to resort to emergency measures to provide enough places for all pupils entitled to one, as they are legally bound to do.
At Western in Fulflood the council concreted over part of a playing field to install a temporary double classroom while an IT room has been converted into a classroom at St Peter’s in Oliver’s
Temporary classrooms have also been installed at All Saints in Highcliffe, Winnall and Harestock primaries.
In total, an extra 74 places have been created for pupils starting this month and September 2013, including 30 at Western, 10 each at Winnall and All Saints, 15 at St Peter’s and nine at Harestock.
Mum-of-three Siobhan Hand, whose children attend Owslebury Primary, said: “My son is due to start at Westgate in 2013 but will my daughter be able to follow him there two years later and will there be a free bus service which is important if you live in a village?
“It is all up in the air. It is inevitable there will be changes but like many parents I would like my children to attend the same school.”
Hampshire’s education boss Councillor Roy Perry said: “We will be talking to schools later this month and Hampshire's admissions arrangements will be formally determined in spring 2013.
"The focus at this time is primary schools as the implications for secondaries are less direct.”
Councillor Jackie Porter, opposition spokesman for children’s services, said: “It is going to be very unsettling for parents but if a new primary is introduced in the centre of Winchester and those pupils will be promised places at The Westgate, then it is inevitable they will have to re-configure catchment areas.”
Cllr Porter added the Liberal Democrats will be pressing for the council to give priority for places at secondary schools to pupils in Winchester district after catchment area pupils.
At present, Kings’ and The Westgate are over-subscribed but places have gone to children living in Southampton, Test Valley and Basingstoke.
Figures in the county’s School Places Plan 2011-15 suggest an extra 1,206 reception places will be needed across the county, excluding Southampton which also has a shortfall.
County education bosses have estimated £200m is needed to create the equivalent of around 20 new primary schools and two secondaries over the next decade to cope with spiralling demand for places.
Earlier this year the county was handed £9.8m to create extra classroom places – but the council says more Government cash is needed to meet the shortfall.