Catchment areas

 

            Numerous residents have written to me concerning the new proposals for the catchment area of Maiden Erlegh School.

             I did lobby Councillors to maximise the use local residents can make of the school, preferring Wokingham Borough pupils over those from outside the Borough. I have now contacted Councillor Stanton, the Executive memebr responsible, to say that there are strong feelings that the draft proposal does not give a high enough priority to local residents close to the school to the north. There is general satisfaction in Lower Earley about the arrangements to the south of the school.

           This is an important decision which is entirely the responsibility of our Councillors.

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16 Comments

  1. Chris Mason
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Thank you for your comments. Please could you continue to ensure that you place pressure on the council to protect the interests of the Maiden Erlegh residents who have been left devastated by these proposals that are causing a ridiculous amount of stress.

    I am born and bred here, attended Loddon and Maiden Erlegh schools and have been absolutely let down by the politics of this situation. My political allegiances have been turned upside down in the last 2 weeks.

    We all accept the need for change – I remember when Lower Earley was all fields I’m sounding old). As a life long Maiden Erlegh resident I was vaguely aware that a review of the catchments was taking place but it never even crossed my mind that I would even be impacted. My kids are in years 4+5 at Aldryngton but as we are only 4 minutes short walk West of the school it never even occured to me that we would be impacted in the way we have.

    Nobody on my road even knew about this until the kids returned to school in January when rumours started to grow about the new tie breaker proposals. You may think i should have no need to worry but the draft (daft) proposals are already published on the web so any opportunist could buy a property in Lower Earley where the market is less mature as around Maiden Erlegh and the Holt (supply and demand). Even the Aldryngton school caretaker’s house takes lower precedence than a large part of Lower Earley where starter homes/maisonettes are located.

    This will create a 2 way migration – inward into Lower Earley and then a 2nd phase as people who have secured a place at the school then buy a house closer to the school – ironically on Maiden Erlegh estate.

    All of this instability can be prevented if the proposed tiebreaker criteria is just amended slightly to protect the interests of local residents and will ensure that the short safe walk to school is protected for all children on Maiden Erlegh Estate (only a small number in the scheme of things) .

    I have not seen any Traffic projections from the council since the change to the tiebreaker was subtley made (I did ask for it at the public meeting but it could not be provided) but it is easy to predict chaos across Earley if this is implemented and have contacted the Police about this – though I would have expected them to have been involved at the risk assessment stage anyway.

    With the massive extension of the catchment area southwards, car journeys will be increased from Lower Earley along Rushey Way via Gypsy Lane and then Silverdale Road to Loddon Primary School and the Childrens centre. This area is already a site of traffic and parking problems and in the top 3 priority areas for the neighbourhood police team (who are in regular attendance) for parking offences, limiting neighbours access.

    Ironically, the area by Loddon school relatively low down on the order of precedence in the catchment criteria, so the residents in this area will also be forced to take their kids to school elsewhere.

    Some time later, once eventually arriving at Maiden Erlegh the school access is behind a parade of shops with no parking and no drop off zones so the situation around this area will be even worse than it is now.

    At the time of the public meeting at Maiden Erlegh school hall the access road to the school was flooded and is a health and safety disaster waitng to happen.
    With the model that is currently proposed, there will be much larger percentage of children using this access point so the school.

    Once the kids are dropped off (late), that’s when the fun really starts. Many residents in this area also potentially take a relatively low precedence in the catchment criteria so they will be joining the queue along Betchworth Avenue and Wilderness Road. I am local to this area and it is close to breaking point now, this proposal will potentially make things much worse as more people will have to use their cars when they could easily have walked.

    I welcome anyone to come to the ME school but preferably by foot and controlled access by car. Any model proposed needs to put safety and walking high on the admission criteria not use of the motor car.

    The school is in the middle of a tightly packed housing estate on already busy roads and just does not fit the model that is being proposed. I fully recognise the needs of Lower Earley, I have many many friends there but there must be a better way of defining the admission tiebreaker that is causing so much bad feeling now and will cause traffic chaos in the future.

    Please involve local residents from all communities, I’m sure we could help with some proposals. We all know supply of places will never meet demand but walking to school must be one of the priorites for this site over use of the car. Some small adjustments to the admission criteria could help this situation to prioritise walking and still leave a fair allocation for Lower Earley.

    Kind Regards,

    C Mason (Maiden Erlegh resident and concerned dad)

    Reply: I have contacted Councillor Stanton again yesterday as he is in charge of this review.

    • A Sarda
      Posted January 24, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

      Dear Mr Mason,

      I couldn’t agree more with ALL the arguements you have put forward against the new tie breaker proposal. This proposal has caused enough stress already, and has divided the two communities.

      I do hope that the council would reject this tie breaker proposal in favour a solution that is fairer to everyone (not only to Lower Earley), and would continue to serve the interests of the Wokingham residents in the long term.

      I would urge Mr Redwood to support the concerns of Earley residents who will be affected the most. At the same time, I would request Mr Rob Stanton to give a fair chance to residents of Earley.

      Sincere regards.

      A Sarda
      Earley resident & a very concerned parent

  2. Paul Swaddle
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi, as local Councillor for the Maiden Erlegh Ward I wanted to respond.

    I have been contacted by a many residents concerned by the consultation on changing the catchment area, and will try to answer as many of the issues raised here:

    There has been some concern expressed into the distribution of literature on the second consultation, I have contacted Council officers regarding this, and have been assured that there have been press adverts and articles, and all schools have been asked to advertise this Formal Consultation. In view of these comments I have asked for all schools to remind all parents in their normal communication vehicles.

    I have seen some modelling on the tie break, and am chase further info, but I have been assured that it should not affect people in the current catchment, but as this is a major concern I will be supporting the http://www.walktomaidenerlegh.com campaign to prevent people missing out in the future.

    ME will likely become an Academy in May 2011 and the school can review its own admission arrangements but the school have indicated to that they will honour the current review, if they were to choose to undertake a review they would have to undergo a new consultation.

    It is vital that all concerned parties submit individual concerns to the consultation; I intend to submit a summary of concerns on behalf of resident of Maiden Erlegh ward.

    I have also attended a meeting with representatives of the http://www.walktomaidenerlegh.com campaign and agreed to assist their campaign in any way I can.

    On the specific question of travel modes I will be asking a question at the Council meeting on 20 Jan, to ensure that we get an appropriate answer before the consulation ends.

    As one the local Cllr team I have, and will continue to lobby to ensure a sensible new arrangement, and to ensure wherever possible children are able to attend their nearest school. I don’t not however have a direct say on the proposals, and the final proposal will going to the Council Executive.

    Paul Swaddle

  3. Balwant Mistry
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Further to you comments posted on 18th of January, the proposals does not only adversely effect the local residents to the north but also the local residents to the EAST and WEST of the ME, this means that the pupils already having used ME Campus for 9 years at toddler group, pre-school and Primary school level will no longer have a high enough priority compared to the commuting pupils to the south of the new encatchment area.

    An inital radius of 500metres of ME need to be the highest priority for the local residents/pupils so that pupils can continue to walk to their local school(ME) and not to be driven to Bulmershe.

    We live within 400metres(5 minutes walk) of ME yet we will have a lower priority then the residents of Lower Earley who will drive past our home to get to ME.

    Could you please ensure that you also take into account the residents/pupils who leave within 500metres of ME Campus have the highest priority, as we will have to put up with the extra traffic congestion on a daily basis.

    Mr B Mistry ( local resident and parent)

    Reply: I have made representations to Councillors to give priority to those living near the school in my constituency.

  4. A Sarda
    Posted January 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    I would like to express strong objection to the proposed new tie-breaker arrangements for admission to Maiden Erlegh School. The new proposal differs significantly from the original proposals that was put forward and adversely impacts those living closest to Maiden Erlegh School. Like a majority of residents, we live approximately 5 minutes walk from the ME School, but would be forced to drive to Bulmershe if this proposal is implemented.

    The council’s claims – that only a few families would be affected, proposal is greener and fairer are all false and non justifiable. They have admitted to have failed to take into account many key considerations (including safety, traffic) which demonstrate the fact that the proposal has not been well thought through.

    Whilst the proposal aims to serve a selected band of residents in Lower Earley (not ALL of Lower Earley), a significant part (most) of Earley has lost out. In years to come, considering factors such as migration and building of 100+ new houses would certainly mean that whole of Earley is left out, and the only parts of Lower Earley that falls in the ‘pink’ band will fall in ME catchment.

    I strongly urge this proposal to be scrapped in favour of a more fair plan that would benefit the residents of Earley & Lower Earley in the longer term.

    A Sarda
    Local resident, Earley

  5. Andy
    Posted January 28, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Hi John,

    In response to the comments above.

    The proposed arrangements have be fought for by residents of SW Lower Earley to replace the existing system which is a mess. They are strongly supported in this area as the local children currently have to travel an extra 2 miles past our local school (Maiden Erlegh) to get to Bulmershe.

    I would urge those people in opposition to these changes to take a proper look at the existing system and consider how they would make a proposal that was fair for all, without spending £20+ Million on a new school. The proposal that the council has arrived at is about as fair as it is possible to be.

    • A Sarda
      Posted January 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Hi John & Andy,

      In resposne to the comment you have made, I would agree with you in that the existing system may not be perfect, but what is being proposed is not the solution either. It will simply shoft the ‘mess’ as you describe it from one group (Lower Earley) to another (Earley).

      With the current catchment, ME School do serve a large proportion of children from Lower Earley, its not as if Lower Earley is excluded. With the tie breaker proposal, the school will become an Lower Earley exclusive school, at the cost of children in Earley.

      What’s more, a number of other schools are available for families in Lower Earley (Forest, Holt etc.); with the new proposal that will be taken away. Many families in Lower Earley are not happy about that either. They do not fall in favourable bands and will be forced to go to Bulmershe like everyone in Earley.

      Finally, I don’t see as to why Lower earley residents, members of Wokingham Borough Council and the councillors see it fit to punish children in Earley just because they live close to the school. Many families moved here in Earley for the ME School; why didn’t the people who now see fit to kick a fuss about schools move to Earley instead of Lower Earley?

      Didn’t they know then that the area they are moving into was quite a distnace from local schools and not in the catchement of ME School?

      This new proposal is not a fair one nor a fit for purpose. The real solution would have been to build a new school in the area (given new 100+ housing coming up), or, for WBC to work closely with RBC.

      That clearly has not happened, and we have ended up as a severly divided community fighting against each other. It’s sad to see how many groups, petitions, blogs and web sites have been set up by local parent groups.

      Instead of working against each other, it would have been far more productive to have joined forces for ONE cause that would benefit ALL.

      Yet, divided we stand!

      • Andy
        Posted January 30, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        “Many families moved here in Earley for the ME School; why didn’t the people who now see fit to kick a fuss about schools move to Earley instead of Lower Earley?

        Didn’t they know then that the area they are moving into was quite a distance from local schools and not in the catchment of ME School?”

        Firstly, it depends when they bought their property. Many changes have occurred over the last 20 years.

        Secondly, you seem to think that it should be possible and is acceptable to buy your way into the best state funded schools. Well, it is not. Schools admissions policy is about what is best for the children who need to attend them, not about which parents can afford houses closest to the school or maintaining house prices around the school.

        In any case, there is a direct counter to your argument; When you bought your house in catchment for ME did you not know that school catchment areas can change and the catchment areas were due for a major review?

        The call for a new school is an easy one to make and one that it easy to agree with, however I suspect that the practicality of funding such a school, given the current financial situation and the surplus of availability in Wokingham school places mean that it is not a realistic option.

        • A Sarda
          Posted January 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for your comments.

          I am not sure since when has moving to a location that is close to a school is considered buying education? Isn’t that private education for which you have fork out a fortune.

          Nowhere did I state in my any of my posts anything about ‘maintaining house prices’. I have seen this arguement used by many who are very keen to push through with the proposal.

          The fact is surely Lower Earley would stand to gain from house prices increase as they would be in the premium zone (even if it is at the cost of Earley). But that is not what this is about.

          I agree with you in relation to funds available to build a new school, however, there is a need for a new school in the longer term despite the financial challenges.

          It was a severe shortcoming on the part of the council to allow 1000+ houses to built without provision of schools & closing Ryeish Green without having any longer term strategy for those who will be displaced.
          And what happens when newer housing is developed – Sibley Hall (100+), and then towards Shinfield. Heaven forbid if Lower Earley is then out of catchment, then what would your view be. Technically, they would be furthest from ME therefore, be given top priority.

          What you & the proposal are suggesting is that because one group of people have to travel some distance to get to local school, EVERYBODY should be made to travel equi-distance to get to their local school.

  6. sailesh patel
    Posted January 30, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr. Redwood,

    Firstly, I would like to urge you to support the campaign of residents living around Maiden Erlegh (ME) who are being blatantly penalised by the proposed tie-breaker proposal. As a resident whose child may have to replace a 5 minute walk to ME with a 35 minute walk to Bulmershe, I am appalled the council sees it as being reasonable to move the problem experienced by Lower Earley(LE) residents onto ME residents. To my mind, the root of the problem lies with Bulmershe which is a relative-failure compaired to other Wokingham schools. This results in an understandable reluctance for people to send their children there. We have been told that it is an improving school by the council which may be true but parents in Reading and Wokingham obviously don’t buy into this explanation as the school is under-subscribed.

    Over the decades, Reading & Wokingham councils have failed to address this discrepancy and as I said previously we, the residents, are having to pay the price. This is wrong and unfair. If the proposal goes through people will simply flood properties in LE which will worsen traffic problems in Earley and rubbishes the council’s claimed green agenda.

    My suggestion is that things remain as they are but with a strong co-ordinated effort by Reading and Wokingham councils to sort out the Bulmershe mess as well as providing a replacement to Ryeish Green ASAP to spread the congestion that will be inevitable by moving non-local people into Maiden Erlegh. At the very least, people living closest to Maiden Erlegh school should be given preference to attend that school.

    Another point I would like to bring to your attention is the shoddy way Aldryngton parents have been treated throughout this process. We were only made aware of the impact of changes when the consultation process began just before the Christmas holidays. Most of us were oblivious to what was going on until the statr of Spring term, giving us 6 short weeks to become educated, opinionated and co-ordinated. Contrast this with other parts of the ME designated area who have an entire term to organise themselves and have changes made. In my mind, this is wrong and we should be given far more time to be heard. If nothing else, the consultation period should be extended by several more weeks.

    Kind Regards,

    Sailesh Patel (parent)

  7. Mrs Warburton
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    I have been reading the comments posted here with great interest. I am disappointed that you have been asked to place pressure on the council to protect the interests of a relatively small number of residents. I would urge you to support a scheme that is better for the majority. By providing a “golden circle” around the school many children who could quiet easily walk to either school (Maiden Erlegh or Bulmershe) would be given preferential treatment at the expense of other children in the area.
    For example, my daughter currently attends Loddon Primary, we regularly walk to school which takes around 10 mins. Maiden Erlegh would be another 10-15 mins walk down the same road which would give my daughter a quite acceptable walk of 20-25 mins. I would NOT be driving past anyone’s home to get to Maiden Erlegh. Bulmershe School on the other hand would be an approximate safe walk of 3 miles, taking 1 hour.
    In my opinion, the current tie-breaker put forward by the council does seem to be fairer on the majority than the latest proposals by the http://www.walktomaidenerlegh.com campaign.
    I completely disagree with comments suggesting that an initial radius should be a high priority. Many more children will have to be driven to school if this plan goes ahead. These children CAN walk to Bulmershe.

    Regards

    Mrs Warburton
    (Concerned parent)

    • Mr Bickle
      Posted February 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Warburton, may I recommend you take a look at the map of the catchment area with the tie breaker zones overlaid on it (http://www.walktomaidenerlegh.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/The-Golden-Line.jpg) – I know it’s from the dreaded ‘Walk To Maiden Erlegh’ group, but it is an official map which Wokingham have issued.
      Unfortunately, if you live in Loddon catchment area, your daughter could well be walking to Bulmershe with the rest of us.

    • Robert Moore
      Posted February 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Mrs Warburton,
      I don’t mean to belittle your post, but it brilliantly demonstrates the shear lack of understanding that surrounds the proposed tie-breakers and the effect they will have upon the various areas of Earley and Lower Earley. If you reside in a house which is a 10 minute walk to Loddon Primary and a 25 minute walk to Maiden Erlegh, then you have precious little chance of attaining places at Maiden Erlegh School under Wokingham Borough Council’s proposed tie-breaker scheme. The ‘golden line’ that their proposal creates points away from the Loddon area to the south west. I do not know where you live, but from what you have said in your post it would imply that:
      1/ You were possibly not in the Maiden Erlegh catchment prior to this consultation
      2/ You will effectively become/remain out of catchment under the council’s tie-breaker scheme
      No one can say where the cut-off will be, nor where it will move to over time, but the only way that your part of Earley will be treated fairly in a tie-break is if some form of radial scheme is used. This is what was initially proposed by the consultation, and variations of the radial scheme (that give a bias towards Lower Earley) have subsequently been proposed by campaign groups.
      I think you need to check out the council’s proposed tie-break map again, I suspect you are in a very poor position using their formula.

  8. Mr G Bains
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    I would like the previous commentator – Mrs Warburton- to consider the following recent news story as shown on the BBC news, England website on 02/02/2011, when she describes the walking route to Bulmershe School from Earley as “safe” :

    “Sex attacker sought after Woodley assault.

    A sex attacker is being hunted by police after assaulting a woman who was pushing a pushchair in Berkshire.

    The 43-year-old was walking through an alleyway in Kingfisher Drive, Woodley, when she was grabbed from behind by the man at about 1100 GMT.

    The woman was sexually assaulted but the man, wearing glasses and a long coat and hat, ran off when the victim screamed.

    Witnesses are being urged to come forward with information.

    Pc Callum Bushell, of Thames Valley Police, said: “This was a frightening incident for the woman and I would like to talk to anyone who was in the area and may have witnessed the incident, or who saw the man matching the description.”

    The reality is that the walking route to Bulmershe from North Earley is actually quite scary and potentially dangerous as highlighted by the above article.

  9. Mr G Bains
    Posted February 8, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood and Mrs Warburton,

    here is the link for that news story as mentioned above.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-12348651

  10. Robert Moore
    Posted February 15, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Mrs Warburton,
    I don’t mean to belittle your post, but it brilliantly demonstrates the shear lack of understanding that surrounds the proposed tie-breakers and the effect they will have upon the various areas of Earley and Lower Earley. If you reside in a house which is a 10 minute walk to Loddon Primary and a 25 minute walk to Maiden Erlegh, then you have precious little chance of attaining places at Maiden Erlegh School under Wokingham Borough Council’s proposed tie-breaker scheme. The ‘golden line’ that their proposal creates points away from the Loddon area to the south west. I do not know where you live, but from what you have said in your post it would imply that:
    1/ You were possibly not in the Maiden Erlegh catchment prior to this consultation
    2/ You will effectively become/remain out of catchment under the council’s tie-breaker scheme
    No one can say where the cut-off will be, nor where it will move to over time, but the only way that your part of Earley will be treated fairly in a tie-break is if some form of radial scheme is used. This is what was initially proposed by the consultation, and variations of the radial scheme (that give a bias towards Lower Earley) have subsequently been proposed by campaign groups.
    I think you need to check out the council’s proposed tie-break map again, I suspect you are in a very poor position using their formula.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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