Monday, October 10, 2011

New school for Swanage!

Congratulations to everyone at Education Swanage, for their success in being approved by the government to open a new Free School in Swanage. This is from their Facebook page (more on the link above).

"Just a quick note to let everyone know the fantastic news - the Swanage School proposals have been accepted and we'll be opening a brand new secondary school in Swanage in September 2013!

Huge thanks to everyone who's been so supportive of Education Swanage over the past months and years. There's a lot of hard work to come, but our mantra has always been 'a school created by the community for the community' and we know that together we will do something truly amazing for local children.

Keep your eyes peeled for news of a public meeting to be held very soon!"

Paul Angel

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

On the old grammar school site?
asked nickthefish

Anonymous said...

Congratulations are in order as a lot of hard work must have gone into the proposal and from what I’ve read in the news the vast majority of Free School applications fail to make the final cut. However, whilst there is clearly a good body of support in Swanage, there are still many doubters out there who need convincing. From conversations I’ve had, particularly amongst those young(ish) parents who have lived in Swanage all or most of their lives and who went to The Purbeck School. Many I’ve spoken to have told me that their experience in Wareham was far more enjoyable and rewarding than their Middle School years.

The recent school bus fiasco and rather disappointing Ofsted inspection at The Purbeck School (‘only’ Satisfactory) clearly gives a boost to Education Swanage’s plans for secondary school teaching. But with a new Head Teacher due on the scene next year there must surely be scope for improvement at The Purbeck School. Other nearby secondary schools under Dorset County Council LEA control have Good or even Excellent Ofsted ratings. The ‘Purbeck Review’ and the change from three tier to two tier schooling was driven by the perceived need to increase pupil numbers at The Purbeck School. Extensive consultations took place as part of this – even if the outcome was controversial. Yet a ‘coach and horses’ can be driven through all this with a minimal amount of consultation! In these supposedly austere times I’m finding it hard to understand how this can be right.

I have child who is currently at Swanage Middle and who would be amongst the first intake at the new Free school. Whilst I’m willing to be convinced, I simply can’t bring myself to sign them up in the absence of something as fundamental as a prospectus and detailed site plan. How other parents can, particularly those with children in years 5 or 7, is frankly beyond me right now. I have many as yet unanswered questions and am certainly looking forward to the promised for public meeting…..

Carl Styants said...

Thanks for your congratulations. It has been hard work and there is much more to come.

I must point out that in the Purbeck Review there was not one scrap of consultation on the issue of a secondary school.

Education Swanage formed because we wanted to make sure that people did have a voice on this issue. After many months of petitions and meetings we almost succeeded in getting the second round of consultation to include secondary education. DCC councillors voted unanimously to include it but the seven members of the Cabinet, none of whom live anywhere near us, overturned that decision.

ES have spent three years consulting people, the last year about a free school. To get a school we have had to prove we have widespread support but we do not expect everyone to choose the school. ES have always been very supportive of the Purbeck School, arguing for a campus in this town, and we want to work with them and other schools.

If you have unanswered questions please get in touch. You don't have to wait for a meeting.

Even better, if you want to make an active contribution to the success of the school, we are always looking for help. Education Swanage has moved from being an informal campaign group to a co-operative trust formally responsible for the school. Anyone can become a member if they sign up to our open, democratic and community-minded principles.

There will be a public meeting as soon as we have more details from the DfE about the next steps.

Carl Styants
on behalf of Education Swanage

Anonymous said...

The performance of the Purbeck School will improve when it no longer has to address the deficiencies of the children arriving from the middle schools. This was a point well made in the previous OFSTED report a couple of years ago. Strangely enough the latest report says the school is of average size which contradicts the central plank in the platform of ES, that it is far larger than average. How odd.

Anonymous said...

How is it odd? If there were no school in Swanage, Purbeck would be larger than average from 2013 when it takes on an extra two years. With a Swanage School it will remains of average size. In fact, the median size of secondary school is only about 900.

Anonymous said...

There are three types of average. Its GCSE stuff. We were told in an earlier post that the median size of a comp is 900. The median is the mid point in a range. It is not the same as the mathematical average (mean), or most commonly occurring number (mode). The median is meaningless if there is an unusually small or large example at either extreme since this distorts this type of average. One tiny comp in the back of beyond could make nonsense of the median figure. Can a supporter of ES tell us the mean and standard deviation of comprehensive school size so we can form an opinion on how far Purbeck departs from this and whether the difference is significant.

Anonymous said...

Actually the opposite is true. The median ignores data that is extreme that would otherwise skew the data.

Anonymous said...

OOH!

The median has developed a mind!

If we know the st dev then we can use the median ignoring outliers.

Anonymous said...

"The median ignores data that is extreme that would otherwise skew the data."

Sadly, statistics chosen for propagandist purposes tend not to make the distinction. Anyway, the focus now looks like moving to PDC since the owners of the old grammar school will want PP to build market housing on the remainder of the site and this will mean the council have to make an exception to their commitment to a high proportion of affordable housing. Expect some foxy terminology as they attempt to justify this.

Anonymous said...

Assuming that the new school goes ahead at the Grammar School site – and a full structural survey will probably soon confirm the viability of this – then personally I’m in no doubt that a way forward will be found. I agree that a total waiving of the affordable housing element would be bitterly opposed by sections of the community. However, the publicly available briefing note issued at the Swanage Town Council monthly meeting on 5th September considers the possibility of building the affordable housing element on an alternative site in Swanage. Quote: “In its representations to the Pre-submission Draft Core Strategy the Town Council highlighted the possibilities for building affordable housing on land in local authority ownership. All local authority assets have been listed through the Locality Review process. Potential sites could include the Council’s Depot in King’s Road and Prospect allotments. Both of these would be subject to the satisfactory relocation of existing facilities and public consultation”. End quote.

I like to think that those involved with Education Swanage are themselves keen to see affordable houses built nearby as these are likely to be occupied by families with prospective pupils for their new school.

Anonymous said...

Is it not appropriate for the social value of a community school to justify its establishment on the site, in lieu of social housing?

Anonymous said...

"considers the possibility of building the affordable housing element on an alternative site in Swanage."

Sorry, what affordable housing?I thought that the developers were prepared to donate the grammar school site on condition they received pp for a housing development.Are they also prepared to include affordable housing in that remit?Very generous if they are but I got the impression that the donation of the school was in exchange for not having to provide affordable housing.

Anonymous said...

That is the alternative option quoted on the STC briefing document referred to earlier:

“….any planning application would require provision for a proportion of affordable housing. Should the site owner and developer be unwilling to incorporate this within the scheme, the District Council as planning authority could be asked to consider whether to waive this requirement, accepting the benefit to the community of the gift of the school site in lieu of affordable housing. The Town Council can also comment on the above policy as part of the Core Strategy consultation”. End quote.

I’m uncertain of the details of the formal PDC planning policy which requires a specified proportion of all housing developments over a certain size to be affordable, i.e. for rent at below market rates. But I know that one does exist. If anyone else can confirm exactly what the current PDC policy is I’d be grateful. Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Prospect allotments?
the bastards!

Anonymous said...

so why not just build the council houses on the "satisfactory relocation of existing facilities" instead?

Anonymous said...

If anyone else can confirm exactly what the current PDC policy is I’d be grateful.

Yes, from page 48 of this document:

http://www.dorsetforyou.com/media.jsp?mediaid=166013&filetype=pdf

"Ahead of formal allocation through a subsequent plan(s) and to enable opening by autumn 2013, should Education Swanage achieve government funding for the provision of a „free school‟, proposals that lie outside of the current settlement boundary will be given consideration provided that they have the support of Purbeck District Council and Swanage Town Council in consultation with Dorset County Council. Should development in the form of housing be required outside of the existing settlement boundary to facilitate the provision of a new school, any such residential development must contain an appropriate level of affordable housing. The location of any housing shouldhave regard to the results of the „Where shall we build in Swanage and Corfe Castle 2010 – 2026?‟ consultation (June 2010)."

Anonymous said...

The Swanage Town Council briefing document referred to above can be located at:

http://www.swanage.gov.uk/userfiles/file/Agendas/Briefing%20Note%20-%20Free%20School%2005%2009%2011.pdf

Anonymous said...

Yes,but is it a condition of donating the school that any development on the site doesn't have to include affordable housing?

Anonymous said...

If you want to see the attitude of the owners of the site to developments including a high proportion of affordable housing take a look at their response to the PDC consultation with land owners et al in which they express strong disapproval of the suggestion of 50% affordable maintaining that nobody would be able to carry out development with such an obligation.

Anonymous said...

It must be difficalt for developers when PDC keeps moving the goalposts: Must have two and a half car spaces per unit then no car spaces allowed; planning relatively cheap now very expensive; no tax on new buildings now the bedroom tax; 25% social housing on 14 units or more now 50% on everything.

Anonymous said...

In fairness to PDC you need to remember that things like car parking are matters of "guidance" from central government. Circumstances change, I rather think you would complain if planning requirements had been the same since the 1940s.

Anonymous said...

no it's rididulous. Dinos in the Sqauare HAS to close at 11.30. Subway can stay open all night...

Anonymous said...

Has Dinos ever applied for a late licence? If so what objections were raised? Can we have some facts. Would you want an all night kiosk under your bedroom window? At lease Subways customers are inside the shop while they are served.

Anonymous said...

I think we're going a bit off topic here.

One of the central arguments put forward by Education Swanage is that a secondary school in Swanage will help attract young families with children to the town. Having more affordable\social housing in Swanage will be essential for this objective. Completely waiving the affordable housing policy would not be right.

Anonymous said...

There's a shortage of any type of family houses not just ones to rent

Anonymous said...

and jobs for these new families will come from where?

Anonymous said...

Did it cross your mind that perhaps many people may already be living in Swanage in unsuitable, or barely affordable, accommodation? For example in my street there are five adults and a young child living in a three bedroom house. With regards to newcomers many will I’m sure be happy to commute (including car sharing) or work from home. Also the Prospect Business Park will hopefully become a reality before too long. The argument “don’t build any more houses because there are no jobs” is self-defeating and should be challenged.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the help and support that an increasingly ageing Swanage population will need from a local community of workers.

Anonymous said...

There'll be quite a few jobs at the new school

David Furmage said...

Well my girlfriend lives in a 3 bedroom house with 5 kids ( one of these is our new born ) and I live at my mums with my 2. Thou we are told time and time again we are not a priority by the council and there's no 4 bedroom houses in swanage:( . Funny that when you hear about old people living in a 4 bed / parlour house on their own and wanting to move cos they cannot afford the rent , but they are not a priority and are in rent arrears so council don't bother doing anything about it. Thing is what is affordable? And do we need houses built when all the council need to do is sort they **** out.

Anonymous said...

Dave. Hope you will be able to input and share your outdoor expertise with the school. As a keen cyclist you will be able to cycle with your family to the Swanage school.

Agree there also a desperate need to do something about homes for people working and living locally. Market housing is mostly now out of reach forpeople on an average local income. New 'affordable' housing park proposed at Cauldron Barn for the over 50's. Will there also be an affordable housing park for younger families ??

The Postman said...

You might be interested in this press release:

http://www.co-op.ac.uk/2011/10/co-operative-free-school-go-ahead-open-swanage-dorset/?mid=50

Anonymous said...

Help me someone - I can't make the figures add up. I read that the new school will cater for 420 pupils which I assume is over 6 years, so I make that 70 pupils per year. I think I have read that the middle school has a capacity of 503 pupils over 4 years which I make 125 pupils per year, although I understand that its present capacity is slightly under 400, but this is still nearly 100 per year. Does this mean that some children will be forced to still go out of Swanage to school? (If so will they have to pay for transport?). Alternatively will they take over some of the spare capacity at the middle school which I am told is going to be the new venue for St Marks, even though it has less than 100 pupils?

Anonymous said...

According to the latest Education Swanage newsletter the new Free School will be a ‘human scale school’ of 420 places for Years 7 to 11 (i.e. FIVE years), with a maximum 84 in each year. Years 7 and 8 will be divided into four forms and Years 9, 10 and 11 will be in five forms. Average class size will be 18. As far as I can tell they have no plans to provide for Sixth Form education.

I don’t think you need worry about children being “forced to still go out of Swanage to school”. Quite the opposite, as many Swanage parents I know are singularly unimpressed with the Education Swanage proposal and want their children to go to The Purbeck School for their secondary education. According to the Directgov.uk website, local authorities must provide free school transport for all children aged between 5 and 16 years old who are “attending their nearest suitable school” and who live 2 miles of more away in the case of pupils under 8, and 3 miles of more for those aged 8 plus. Some might argue that the new Free School will be the nearest “suitable school” and therefore no free transport should be available to Wareham. I can’t see this position standing up to scrutiny though.

The truth is there is very little information available in the public domain in the moment – both in respect of the precise details of Education Swanage’s proposals and DCC’s plans for the Middle School site. St Mark’s have been pressing for a move to the Middle School site since day one of the ‘Purbeck Review’ but they obviously will not need the entire site there. Whilst Education Swanage’s stated preferred site is the old Grammar School I would be very surprised if they didn’t have an eye on the Middle School site. No doubt the truth will unfold in the coming weeks and months.

Anonymous said...

How Education Swanage plan to squeeze 440 pupils into a school built for 300 puzzles me. At its peak the grammar school expanded into portacabins but was still well short of the proposed number. Since the owners of the site, which only extnnds half way up the old school field want to retain as much as they can to build 50 houses on they will not be able to expand it northwards. Perhaps ES could publish a plan showing where all the classrooms, science rooms, technology rooms are going to be.

Anonymous said...

and the sports facilities?

David Furmage said...

Will be able to give any outdoor sport advice even cycling , thou my boys will be going to either Wareham or Lcyhett.

Anonymous said...

Why is that David?

Anonymous said...

What sports facilities?

David Furmage said...

As much as it's nice that the my boys love living in Swanage. I would like them to meet and make friends from people outside of Swanage;)

SillyWhim said...

It has been a few years since I stopped and had a good look at the old grammar school building, but I was shocked at the state of it. The slate roof alone is shot, with missing slates, and I have to wonder about water ingress (and mould). Also the windows need replacing, and the tarmac around the building is broken up. Who knows what the inside and services are like, let alone the fittings and fixtures needed for a modern school. I am sure it can be repaired and kitted out but there isn't a lot of time. Just the building will challenge a team, let alone putting together a staff and a school programme. What a project!!

sansom62 said...

A sorry state it is. But at least there are people out there that are prepared to give it a go instead of just talking about it !!.

Anonymous said...

I agree; but will there be time (I assume the government will foot the bill)to get the building repaired and updated? Will PDC planners fast track any PP needed for this? Will aspects have to go before the public for their approval? I would assume that Fire and Health and Safety issues are not addressed by this building in its current state.

I have had this sort of school development experience, and I know that these things can run into snags, even if money is forthcoming. I assume a full structural survey has already been undertaken and an architectural expert has provided a study and plans for what is needed, and that Mr Gove's department took these into account. It customarily takes six to twelve months to go from the preliminary stage (acquisition of building or land) to the beginning of serious structural work; fitting out classrooms takes a further three to six months; that would set the earliest date for the school to be ready some 12-18 months after this work begins in earnest, and longer if planning or financial snags are hit.

Is there any way to find out what is going on and to offer any assistance that might be helpful?

Anonymous said...

Easiest thing is to to e-mail any offer of help to info@educationswanage.co.uk

Anonymous said...

Dave, thanks for offering your support to the school. ES could really do with your help. Thinking that it will need someone to give advice about healthy school dinners. If your kids have half your energy then they would be an asset to any school.

David Furmage said...

The key I think to a healthy life is getting out if it's with bicycles , going surfing ,skateboard or walking. Anything is better than sitting in front of a tv. And a healthy diet to go with it aswell.

Anonymous said...

and the building will need a lift for less able students

Anonymous said...

It's also haunted.

David Furmage said...

Oh wicked a ghost story for Halloween ;)

Anonymous said...

Question re: sports facilities. Considering 50 houses will be built on the same site, what sports/excercise facilities will the school have, and will any be open to the public ala purbeck school.

Anonymous said...

50 houses? Have I missed something? Has planning permission been given? How many will be affordable?

David Furmage said...

Well the grounds does boast an outdoor swimming pool which does make for excellent skateboarding in;) also there is a climbing wall. Though if the planning was to go ahead for houses most of the land will be used for this. And as for these houses being affordable , not a chance! So I am off now to step into my space rocket and burst of on my maiden voyage to Mars;) ......... Well we can all dream can't we?

Anonymous said...

I’ve heard that St Mary’s School will be relocating to the land at the other end of the old Grammar School site, by Washpond Lane, where a new school will be built. Apparently their existing site in Manor Road is too small to become a primary school – something I can quite believe. Does anyone know anything about this? Seems the old The Grammar School site is going to be a busy part of Swanage in the years ahead, what with two schools and 50 or so new houses!

Anonymous said...

Further to above unanswered question, I’ve heard through a Swanage Middle School contact that the Dept of Education now favours the Middle School site for the new free school and NOT the ex-Grammar School. It’s noticeable that the latest Education Swanage announcement on their website (dated 10th October) makes no mention of location. When will the people of Swanage be told WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON?

Education Swanage said...

Carl from Education Swanage here

Not sure where this information came from but it is not correct.

We do know that the DfE would have asked an agent to see what sites are available in the area, but this is done as a matter of course with all new schools. The middle school site would have cropped up in a search but the DfE have spoken to both us and DCC and it will be used for St Mark's. We have no plans to use that site.

We made no mention of location because the situation is unchanged.

We are letting people know about everything as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for clarifying the position Carl – I really appreciate it.