Maiden Erlegh catchment area


        I object strongly to Mr Gove intervening in the decison over the Maiden Erlegh catchment. He advocates localism, so he should  not second guess local decisions like this. I am pursuing this matter with him.

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  1. Andy
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Quite right John. We have been through a two year consultation process and want the result that the process came up with, not a version watered down on the whim of central government.

  2. Karen Smith
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Your support in this matter would be very much appreciated. Michael Goves decision to overturn elements of the determined admissions arrangments for Maiden Erlegh are outrageous. This makes a complete mockery of localism.

    • Bobby
      Posted September 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

      What makes a mockery of ‘localism’ is having children living 2 miles away from a school taking priority over those who live 200 yards away.

      • Andy
        Posted September 15, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

        Hi Bobby, under the proposals children within 600m would of had priority. This is part of the decision that was ovturned by Mr Gove.

        • Bobby
          Posted September 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

          Andy, thanks for clearing that up. I was under the impression that many of the ‘leading lights’ of the Lower Earley campaign were very resentful of an inner protected zone close to the school in Earley as it took places away from Lower Earley and gave them to those closest to the school.
          The 600m zone was widely disapproved of amongst Lower Earley campaigners. Am I safe to assume their stance has softened?

          • Andy
            Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

            Hi Bobby,

            Yes, the decision was made as an output of the consultation and approved by the council, so it should stand. As far as I am aware, and from the recent email I have seen the campaign is to uphold the decision of the council in full.

  3. Sue
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for stepping into the debate John, this decision made a mockery of the whole consultation process, the recommendations by the school adjudicator were flawed and the decision was made right at the last minute. Michale Goves announced his decision on 31st August – the dealine for applications for 2012-13 is 31 October. This gives parents of year 6 children absolutely no time to react to such a fundamental change.

  4. Nicola Tivey
    Posted September 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely your support would be appreciated. This whole process has sadly caused more problems than it has resolved. One step forward and two back is hardly democratic and resulted in so much ill feeling that our community has been deeply affected.

  5. Julie
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    John, it should of always been a radical tie breaker as with all the other Wokingham District Council schools. All local children should be able to walk to their local schools. I moved 4 years ago just off Silverdale Road to guarantee my child goes to his local school being a 10 minuite safe walk. You need to look at building another school and not taking our local school away from the ‘Maiden Erlegh community’. You keep allowing more houses to be built in Lower Earley/Sibley Hall with no plan for another secondary school!

  6. Susie
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    John, please do remember that many of your constituents are in fact pleased with this outcome, and see the adjudicator’s recommendation as the first sensible decision that has been made in the whole drawn-out consultation process. WBC are entirely responsible for the ill-feeling and stress that has been caused as a result of this. I would be interested to know why Lower Earley does not have its own school as thought that at least one plot of land was ear-marked for this. Or is this an urban myth? Thanks.

    Reply: There was a site and a plan for a new school when the homes were first built. I supported that proposal. The then County Council changed its mind and decided to sell the land and not build the school.
    I strongly object to national interference in what is a local matter, at a time when Minisetrs tell us they believe in localism.

    • Andrew
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure they still do believe in localism, but that doesn’t mean that they should turn a blind eye to everything that happens at a local level. Some local issues, such as this one, may still require objective, independent analysis if complaints have been raised and this, naturally, should be carried out by someone not involved in it at a local level to ensure this objectivity. The reality was that the Education Dept acted on the recommendation of the OSA who visited the area, gathered evidence and then made a decision.

      • Karen Smith
        Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        You make an interesting point Andrew but the recommendation of the OSA did not contain all the evidence only that of the objectors. Not all stakeholders in our communities were included in his independent analysis. It should also be noted that Wokingham Borough Councils original proposal was drawn up by an ‘independent consultant’, also a schools adjucator. The first proposal was drawn up objectively using independent analysis.

        • Stuart
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

          John Simpson did indeed look all the data and in real terms the journeys the effected parties would face. He is an experienced adjudicator with many years experience. Do you really think he wouldnt analyse the facts? Ofcourse he used independant data and he looked at the workings behind the original NANS tiebreaker which was put together by a member of the Lower Earley community so hugely subjective and biased. Hence why he came to the conclusion he did. A system that matched the rest of the borough. To further clarify the original recommendation was NO Change.
          To all intents and purposes we have been through a very stressful process and lots of families have lost out not least ones in the borough but also in Reading.
          One could argue that in devising the NANS tiebreaker the stakeholders of the LOCAL community were not included or even consulted. When we find out after Christmas the process was well under way and the NANS tiebreaker giving preference to a portion of SW lower Earley upto that point at no point upto that point were we consulted.

    • Karen Smith
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

      Johns replay is a really interesting point as it seems to have be forgotten that it was the ‘County Council’ that decided to sell the land earmarked for a Lower Earley School and not ‘Wokingham Borough Council’.

    • Susie
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Thank you for the reply. Was there much political or local opposition to selling off the land? Did you oppose it at the time?

      reply: Yes, I opposed it at the time, but it was a decision made by the Council alone.There was limited opposition at the time of sale, but continuous complaints for years about the absence of a new school

  7. Nicola
    Posted September 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Please please help us, lets make this a fair decision for the future of the area, I am now left with 6 weeks to make a decision for my child’s future schooling, having had our catchment school taken away from us, this time scale for year 6 parents to make alternative choices for their children is completely unfair.

  8. John Luis
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    what a joke, i pay my taxes to workingham and then i cannot get into the local school, instead ill be forced to drive across the borough to woodley.. This needs sorting asap as yr6 parents need to make an informed decision!!

    • Andrew
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      This has been sorted though: the decision was to reinstate the radial distance tiebreak

  9. Selina
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    As a LOCAL Earley mother.
    Here is the other side of the story;

    People are now saying the process is flawed when it was the NANS tie breaker it was deemed fine. There was lots of praise for the process and how thorough it has been. No stone relating to distance, community cohesion, congestion, fairness was left un turned.

    This has been a very very fraught difficult and indeed devisive process for many of the LOCAL community. Families that have made life choices to live close to a good school.
    Now if you have any REAL knowledge of the local area please contact me I will be more than happy to show you what in real terms the NANS tie breaker would have meant to LOCAL families to the school. We live 8 mins walk east of the shool under the NANS tie breaker to which so many of the LOCAL community of Maiden Erleigh objected to, our children would have been denied access to their local school and made walk nearly (but cleverly just under three miles – I will happily walk the journey with you.) Now how is this fair? Our children would no longer be able to take part in after school activities they would have an 8 min safe journey replaced with one of 45 mins EACH WAY every day. How is this fair? Yes we did make a life style choice to live close to a school. No one can guarantee access to a state school but given the laws of maths one can assume if you are close to something its going to take your alot less time and stress to get there. We are part of a strong local community. Of which ME school/campus is the hub.
    The 600 metres inner zone was introduced half way through the consultation to address this annomoly. The school took the view that is would be wholly wrong to disenfranchise the local community. The adjudicator after a lengthy process where he took the time to understand in real terms what it would mean for families whho lived in Maiden Erleigh ward/estate would have to travel a long difficult journey to Woodley one that would have been forced upon them he deemed this unfair quite simply because it is.

    The NANS tie breaker was highly discrimmatory and totally and utterly unfair. You are merely shifting the DA in favour of an area further away creating uncertaintity for families close to the school and giving preference to those that live FURTHEST away.

    The real issue is Lower Earey do not want to have to travel to Bulmershe but would happily have travelled further to Holt/Forest as they are considered the same standard as Maiden Erleigh. You move to Lower Earley you know this.

    Helping to ensure LE children have a school of equal calibre and they have a transport plan for their children would be far more appropriate plan of action, cetainly not supporting a plan to TAKE away this choice for local parents to Maiden Erleigh.

    The school afterall DO NOT support shifting the bulge and no one is more LOCAL than the school or the residents that live close to it.

    Think how you would feel if you lived close to ME and were told sorry you now have to go to Bulmershe? Would you be happy? Not on your nelly if you are still one of the few principled intelligent MP’s we have left!

    • Andy
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Hi Selina,

      Please note that if the decision of the local council and the process it followed is respected (ie not overruled as it has been) then the 600m inner catchment would remain in place. I think that would address you main concerns?

  10. David Matthews
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    The whole purpose was to create a ‘fair’ catchment.

    Now some kids get ME over Bulmershe (when located between the 2) at the expense of children in south Lower Earley who will now have to travel over 3 miles to Bulmershe (past ME).

    Fairness surely means evening the fortunes of all the residents – not some winning at the expense of others. Result – our children have to travel further for an inferior education (although no one’s allowed to acknowledge that). The whole point of the review was to even out the journey times and quality of education across the catchment.

    South of Lower Earley has been cut off from Holt / Forest and relegated within its own new catchement. Are there too few of us to count or are we just not loud enough?

    • Karen Smith
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

      Dave, Please be assured that no child in this area will receive an ‘inferior education’ if the child wants to learn. Bulmershe is actually the most improving school in the Borough, they have a fantastic team of committed and dedicated staff led by a Head Teacher who is extremely passionate about his school. We must move away from this perception of Bulmershe. If you haven’t been I would encourage you, and anyone else reading this post, to visit and speak with the team there personally. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  11. Jane
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood
    I’m surprised by your comments. This isn’t just an issue of Reading vs Lower Earley. The people of the Maiden Erlegh/Earley area have fought the council over their crazy tie-break scheme for almost a year now, and an independent Schools Adjudicator came to a sensible decision that such a tie-break – which only benefitted those to the south east of Lower Earley and a tiny inner catchment around the school – was unfair. I can assure you that all of Earley/Maiden Erlegh and those in the east of Lower Earley are hugely relieved that common sense has prevailed. THAT is a victory for a ‘localism’. The Adjudicator also noted that Maiden Erlegh school itself did not back Wokingham Borough Council’s tie-break. A fact that seems to be conveniently forgotten at the moment.

    • Jane
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      …before anyone points it out, my post should have read ‘only benefitted those to the south WEST of Lower Earley …’

  12. Earley resident
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, A great many of Earley (and Wokingham distrcit) residents were strongly opposed to the tiebreaker. This is not all about opposition from Reading residents. You views to Mr Gove do not represent the views of a great many of your consituents. If you can put your hand accross your back garden and touch the school field how can you be happy about not getting a place at that school, in favour of someone miles away? The scrapping of the tiebreaker was a victory for common sense and you have now lost my vote.

    • Andrew
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, Mr R, my vote too. Support for the now-rejected tiebreak had nowhere near unanimous support in Earley.

    • Amanda
      Posted September 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

      I completely agree, the press are reporting this as Reading residents have won their appeal. As a lower earley resident that appealed I know this is not the case.
      We now have a sensible radial tiebreaker. Those near the school get preference, there is no magic line drawn where neighbours worthiness of attending the school are judged on different criteria, those attending ME can probably all walk hence easing congestion.
      I was pleased that the adjudicator came to a sensible decision. Although I bought a house in lower earley in the old small DA I may still not get a place as am on the borderline, yet at least I feel that I am being judged by a fair criteria.

    • Andy
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I think Earley resident and the responders above are missing the point here.

      The fact that you agree with an undemocratic decision does not make it right.

      By your logic we should scrap local democracy and simply have all decisions made by civil servants appointed by central government. Do you really think that is a good idea?

      If the adjudicator had found that the process had been flawed or the decision made was illegal then that would have been a different matter, but he did not. He praised the decision making process, but decided to change the result.

      • Andrew
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Central government didn’t sweep in from upon high without warning and change things, they only got involved when local residents appealed to the OSA. The OSA decided that, as most houses were within 3 miles of both schools in the merged DA, using the NANS tiebreak served no purpose.

  13. Ian
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Permalink


    An independant adjudicator who reviewed the position on an unbiased basis in my opinion correctly overturned a ridiculous, unique tie breaker proposal put forward by a consultant hired by WBC whose role was to try to placate residents whose catchment school would have previously been Ryeish Green, a school closed by WBC.

    For clarity can you confirm you back the WBC proposal with the only timebreaker of its type in the country as the fairer option rather than an unbiased official review?

    Also considering the money wasted by WBC on the consultation are you planning on commiting further resource on this issue, surely it would be better spent improving the standards at Bulmershe?

    As a Maiden Earley voter who lives less than a mile from the school it would be useful to understand what you believe to be sensible, right and fair.

  14. Karen Smith
    Posted September 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    I’d like to point out that this is not an argument about what is fair or unfair, this is about the way in which a decision made by Wokingham Borough Council and its residents has been overturned by Central Government. If you are not familiar with the Localism Bill it is worth reading. If we are to talk about fairness, the most obvious proposal would have been the original plan, drawn up by an ‘independent’ consultant who clearly used the natural boundaries to draw up a DA which would have included all those living within the immediate area of the school and those living on the Earley/Lower Earley side of the school but sadly this along with everything else that Wokingham Borough Council proposed was not ‘fair’ to the minority. But we are not talking about fairness. The schools involved, the DA involved, it is all irrelevent. We are talking about a local democratic process.

    • Andrew
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      The Localism Bill is just that though, a bill, it is not a law. The OSA in reaching their decision has followed the correct current legal process.

      • Karen Smith
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        The opinion of many is that the OSA made many failings in its recommendation to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State has also made many failings in his decision, all highlighted by John Redwood in his latest blog. We cannot just sweep this under the carpet. This is much more than a win or lose situation.

    • Susie
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      Karen, I and many others feel that the adjudication process was democratic and fair, conducted as it was by a completely impartial individual. Everyone had the opportunity to write to the adjudicator, and the meeting at Maiden Erlegh School was open to all. There was ample opportunity to make views known to Mr Simpson, either in person or via email/letter. The ‘pro-change’ group was not well represented at the public meeting so either people in favour of the NANS tie-breaker assumed it was a done-deal or they simply couldn’t be bothered to show up! If people do not make the most of the opportunities presented to them they are not really justified in complaining after the event just because the outcome is not what they wanted.

      • Karen Smith
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink

        Hi Susie, I couldn’t agree with you more regarding ample opportunity to write to the schools adjucator and many did. Unfortunately, myself included, are still waiting for an acknowledgement or reply. With regard to the public meeting and speaking from personal experience, I was not aware that a public meeting was to take place until the day after the event. I wonder what the outcome would have been if WBC did the same thing when they held their consultation meetings. What would the response have been if they had included Wokingham Residents but failed to notify Reading residents, do you think that would have been acceptable? No, of course not, so why in this instance do you feel that it is acceptable. I’d be interested to hear your response.

        • Susie
          Posted September 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

          Hi Karen, if this was indeed the case (that details of the meeting were willfully withheld from those in favour of the catchment changes) then of course I’d agree that it was unacceptable. However, I am surprised to hear that you did not know about the meeting. I am a Wokingham parent like you, and knew about it at least a couple of days in advance despite not being particularly involved in any campaign group. I knew about it through school but can’t remember whether we had a letter home or if I learnt of it through word of mouth. In any case it was common knowledge amongst most people I know.

    • Jane
      Posted September 18, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      Karen, there was nothing ‘democratic’ about the way in which Wokingham Borough Council went about this. The consultation process was a farce. The sudden change of tie-break to the NANS (which, as one councillor admitted, did come from a Lower Earley resident), midway through the consultation was an outrage, and the council were arrogant in the extreme in trying to force this upon us. The local residents never wanted the NANS scheme, so please stop implying that the Adjudicator’s recommendation to return to the radial tie-break was in some way anti-democratic. Incidentally, Wokingham Borough Council were present at both meetings that the Adjudicator held, so clearly you had someone powerful fighting your corner!

  15. T Kumar
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    My children are in primary school now and I moved to Lower Earley last year. When I bought the house I spent a lot of time to serch for a house that comes under ME catchment area. It was a hard time to find a house within the catchment area and within the maximun mortgage that I was able to get. But now someone from nowhere came and change the catchment area so that my house is not in the catchement anymore. Why cannot they leave the catchment as it was? Why they are making our life miserable? My house price will go down and my children have to travel more than 3 miles for another school not the one I wanted.

    • Andrew
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

      Surely if you moved to LE last year, other than getting slightly larger, the catchment hasn’t actually changed…? Unless you live in the eastern end which was previously Holt/Forest catchment, but that change was implemented by the council and was not the subject of the appeal.

      • Karen Smith
        Posted September 17, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

        Andrew, this is fast becoming a debate about where people live and whether they are in or out! Trying to convince people otherwise would be wrong. WBC sent letters home to all primary school parents, myself included, this week to clarify the situation. We are all aware of what the ‘confirmed’ situation is now. This debate is about the way in which this decision was made. Nothing more or less!

  16. Earley resident
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Let’s please not forget Maiden Erlegh school who are now an Academy and can choose their own criteria for admissions never wanted the NANS tiebreaker. Their views always seem to be ignored throughout the whole process. They fully understand that it is an advantage to the school to have all the very local residents attending there. IF you need help with the school fair, painting the walls, youa re more likely to have someone living 100 meters away coming to help than someone who has to drive 2 miles. The people who walk to school and the primary school next to it have a great friendship and community spirit and add to the success of the school. They are part of the real local community and not only there to give their children the best education they can in the area. This is also about peoples lives/friendships being part of the local community. The NANS tiebreaker stood to destroy all of that. I almost lost my childrens places there, I would have been devastated to not be part of this community any more, I live in Ealry in the Wokingham District very close to the school. I love my life here. Ican’t tell you how many sleepless nights I have had about this since the tiebreaker was made known to me (by word of mouth) in January. My daughter hads been in tears as children at her school Aldryngton on the same site as Maiden Erlegh were telling her as she walked home in that direction she wouldn’t be going to Maiden Erlegh. PLEASE give us all a break and let us sleep at night again, it is MUCH harder to have something taken away from you than it is to gain.

  17. She
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,

    Is it really the case that Michael Gove has “intervened in the decision”? My understanding is that after Wokingham Borough Council decided to put forward a new catchment for Maiden Erlegh School, some local residents and other bodies such as feeder primary schools objected to that decision and called in the Schools Adjudicator. My belief is that Michael Gove as Secretary of State is then required to review Schools Adjudicator’s findings. I don’t believe this is “intervention”, at least not in the somewhat provocative way you use the word here.

    My own belief as one of your constituents is that you should be “objecting strongly” to the fact that a huge estate such as Lower Earley is not adequately provided with schools. If you are a supporter of “localism” as you imply then please work with Wokingham Borough Council to ensure decent secondary education across the whole of your constituency. I would hope that one aim of “localism” would be to work for a united, supportive community. WBC’s actions in this matter over the past 12 months have achieved the exact opposite.

    Reply: The argument I put for several years to the then local Educaiton authority that we needed a new school in Lower Earley was considered and rejected. Subsequently I have worked with the Borough to ensure the expansion of Maiden Erlegh, a most popular school.

    • She
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for your reply. Do you have a response to the question I posed? – “Is it really the case that Michael Gove has intervened in the decision?”

  18. IT
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Please, don’t let’s kid ourselves this is about distance. It’s about quality. The “yes to fair change” campaign handed out leaflets informing people which was the best school as a means of drumming up support. I still have one….

    Other solutions than NANS were proposed that would have favoured LE, were border blind, and did not exclude the people closest to the school. The LE councillors refused to support such options because they did not get EV very last member of SE lower Earley in, and in their single-mindedness they threw it all away.

    • IT
      Posted September 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, SW lower Earley.

  19. WBC resident
    Posted September 17, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood.
    I live within the Wokingham borough council and strongly object to you saying you think Mr Gove was wrong. There was a defined course of action that parents undertake when they object to what a council is doing. If we don’t have a route to object to a councils ruling then they would be able to get away with anything. The objecting parents, of which I was one of them, (even though whatever the outcome I would have remained within the Maiden Erlegh catchment area) followed the correct procedure and the outcome was one that I am pleased with as although I know that some people will lose out, the majority of people that are closest to the school will get in. That to me is the fairest posible result.
    Why would you object to a fair democratic process, I really can’t understand why you are doing this, other than if it was one of the lower Earley residents contacted you first and you just jumped on the bandwagon. I truly believe that there are more Wokingham residents that will be happy with the radial distance tiebreaker than are against it.

  20. Suzanne '
    Posted September 18, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I wanted to let you know that we are VERY pleased that the radial distance tie breaker is back! We have always lived in the ME catchment, by choice, even when it was the much smaller DA than it is now, and was not pleased that SW LE suddenly took priority over us, after all these years, to gain entry to ME. I am sure there are many families in the same position as us who feel the same following Mr Gove’s decision. Shouldn’t you be supporting us too?

  21. Don
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Hi John,
    I think many of the arguments about the Maiden Erlegh catchment issue have been expressed on here, I have but one simple question.
    Do you think that is acceptable for WBC to use Earley Council Tax payers’ money to mount a legal challenge, the result of which would be taking priority for Maiden Erlegh school places from one part of Earley (the North, the area closest to the school) and giving them to South West Lower Earley?

    A far as I am aware, a legal challenge is the only way to reverse the decision made by the independent Adjudicator, and approved by the Secretary for Education. So I’d appreciate your thoughts on one part of the Borough paying, through their council tax, to effectively have School places taken from them and given to another part of the Borough. To me this seems unfair.

    Reply: That is a matter for Councillors to debate, decide and defend. As far as I am concerned the issue is Wokingham children needing the places.

  22. Oscar
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    The School’s Adjudicator was called in not only by Reading council but by MANY Earley residents (YOUR constituents) who did not think the council’s proposals were fair, sustainable, green or fit for purpose. The Adjudicator carried out a long and thorough investigation on behalf of the local residents (including objectors from Earley and LOWER Earley).

    I was impressed by how well the Adjudicator engaged with the community, arranging a public meeting for ALL residents to have their say. He also then gave an opportunity for ALL residents to write to him and submit any extra information one may wish to submit to the case.

    This was NOT done behind closed doors, this was NOT central government interfering. It was local residents requesting an independent assessment by the OSA.

    After a lengthy investigation, the Adjudicator determined that the ‘additional-distance’ tie-breaker was unnecessary and added no benefit to the arrangements and should be replaced by standard radial-distance.

    The academy, rightly, is following this recommendation. Households in SW Lower Earley are understandably annoyed (after all, they believed they’d get priority places at Maiden Erlegh Academy). However, I find it staggering that public figures and a local authority are considering taking this matter further following such a THOROUGH and DEMOCRATIC review.

  23. Elizabeth M.
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear John
    Please don’t intervene on behalf of a small group in south west Lower Earley before you have read the Schools Adjudicator’s report in full. It is a very balanced and detailed report, which concludes that one element of the Council’s admissions policy for Maiden Erlegh Academy (the NANS tie-break) did not comply with the Schools Admissions Code.
    The local residents in Earley LOATHED the council’s tie-break. It was not arrived at democratically, and there were thousands of dissenting voices that were ignored throughout the shambolic consultation process.

  24. Rod
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    I wanted to point out that it is a misconception to think that local residents are unhappy at this decsion. I am a local resident and am happy that the right decsion has been made. I speak for those most local to the school, Mr Redwood, please do not intervene with Mr Gove on our behalf.

  25. ALD
    Posted September 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Hi John,
    I am a Park Ward resident of Reading Borough Council. I am very fortuante to be one of the people who have been lucky in this outcome. My child attends our local primary school and I have followed this story and supported my local friends to ensure that our children attend their local secondary school. However, the way in which this decision was made dismays me. I am appauled at this outcome. Reading Borough Council needs to provide a secondary school for its local children. Wokingham Borough Council needs to support its residents, as I would expect my council to support me. I agree with your statement and am pleased to hear that you feel that WBC should maximise the places for its own residents. I would also like to say that WBC did not, at any time exclude my children from its schools, we have an alternative. In hindsite, I am not sure I would have gone against the proposals of WBC but supported them. I hope I have made myself clear in this statement to you and would like you to note that whilst so many people are commenting on your blog we should all be aware that anyone can hide behind a name on the internet, make any comment they wish to, which is why blog entries from ‘Jo’ public need to be taken with a pinch of salt! Hope I’ve made my point! It would appear that there are those that wish to sabotage the campaign for justice!!!

  26. David Matthews
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    The point that Lower Earley residents ‘knew’ the situation when moving to the area (so sh0uld swallow the decision) doesn’t hold any weight.

    A good number of us moved to the area specifically for Holt / Forest. We chose to live there because we wanted Forest / Holt – that we have also now lost.

    The argument of those who were losing MErlegh to go to a school further away does make sense IF they were the only people in the catchment, The schools aren’t placed in perfect positions within the catchments to allow a perfect decision.

    If you take the perceived quality of education away, there’s no logical reason for children in south Lower Earley to lose Holt / Forest then walk past Maiden Erlegh on a 3 mile trek to Bulmershe – just to protect a sense of entitlement of those in the old ME catchment.

    Our children are not worth less than yours.

    • Don
      Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      A few points;

      If Holt/Forest was your preference, why did you not locate yourselves closer to there?
      If it is acceptable to travel from Lower Earley to Holt, why is it not acceptable to travel from Lower Earley to Bulmershe? (Bulmershe is closer to parts of Lower Earley, particularly South West Lower Earley)
      Why is there not a campaign from Lower Earley residents to re-instate your access to Forest/Holt?
      Walking past Maiden Erlegh school from Lower Earley to Bulmershe is an extremely indirect route, used perhaps emotively to make a point. It is not the real situation.

      • Andrew
        Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        The eastern end of Earley/Lower Earley was Holt and Forest catchment until the various catchment changes were agreed by WBC last April

      • john luis
        Posted September 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        “Bulmershe is closer to parts of Lower Earley, particularly South West Lower Earley”

        i dont’t agree with this one bit. We would practically run over the school on the way..

        but thats not really the point anyway.. one question which i see asked is why didn’t lower earley parents move within the school boundary, we could turn this around and say, why didn’t Reading council tax payers move into wokingham borough!! Surely there was allways a risk that reading parents could be taken out of catchment..

  27. Jacqui D
    Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    I live in EAST Lower Earley, and now have a good chance of my daughter getting into Maiden Erlegh because of the radial tie-break. Not all Lower Earley residents were happy about the council’s crazy tie-break. Loads of us in Lower Earley lost out. Especially people around Loddon School and around the south east.

    Us residents on the East need to stand together and show our support for the Adjudicator’s report!!

    SW Lower Earley – you are on your own!

    • Peter H
      Posted September 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      I sincerely hope that the elected members of Wokingham Borough Council for Loddon and Maiden Erlegh wards to their duty and represent their residents. Don’t allow the Hillside Coucillors to bully them into accepting a course of action that would benefit Hillside at the expense of residents in other wards.
      You were elected to serve the wards you represent, not pander to Hillside.

      • IT
        Posted September 21, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink

        Well said !!

        Councillor Chopping said back in the consultation stage that he wanted the maximum coverage for his ward. Well, I’d say he’s got it now, and far more than under NANS even with the inner catchment. So David, please stick to your commitment to your constituents and don’t get involved on behalf of other wards.

    • Nicola
      Posted October 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I too live in the this section of east Lower Earley to which you refer and also attend the Loddon Primary school. But it is unlikely that the radial distance tie breaker will include us. And still it is likely that my children with be separated from their Loddon friend and be attending secondary school alone.

      Funnily enough we are also in the Maiden Erlegh ward. How does that work?

      It would have made so much more sense to have used the original scheme proposed. Or even use the primary school catchment areas as a basis to formulate a new ME designated area. Then there would have been less division in our school playgrounds!

  28. Jacqui D
    Posted September 22, 2011 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, I notice that if you post to ‘’ then you don’t get published unless it’s a comment that is inline with their views! (i.e. unless you are part of a small group in SW Lower Earley). So much for democracy. I’d hate you to think that the SW Lower Earley moans are the feelings of many in Earley and Lower Earley. I can assure you they are not.

    The radial system is fair and has stood the test of time across the country. The idea of moving 2 miles AWAY from a school to guarantee entrance is absolute madness!

    leresidents DO NOT represent the views of Earley and Lower Earley. I notice today that the ‘walktomaidenerlegh’ campaign group have put on their site that they oppose the views of the Hillside residents and fully support the findings of the schools adjudicator. How much more proof do we need that what we now have in place is best for the wider community?

  29. Sat
    Posted September 30, 2011 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Our current catchment area is Forest/Holt School. I am not sure what is going to happen as this area is completely removed to attend these schools and they may now come under Bulmershe. It is not fair.

  30. Louise S
    Posted October 8, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi John,
    Your blog was published on the 13th September. You said that you were taking the matter up with Gove personally and the newspapers quote you as doing this also. I’d be interested to know what response, if any, you have received from Michael Gove. Your earliest response to this would be really appreciated.

    Reply: I am still awaiting a reply. I expect to talk to him in person next week when he is back in Westminster.

  31. Matt K
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Jacqui D(ick)
    How does calling for east Earley residents to stand against their west neighbours, and telling the west they at on their own, help anyone or anything? You are the antithesis of what a community entails, and I only hope your children haven’t inherited your narrow mind. No doubt they will receive a great education at ME, good luck to them, it’s just a shame they won’t be receiving the more important life skills an empathy needed to be successful in this world.

    • Albert Jones
      Posted October 11, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Quite rude and uncalled for I think, and quite representative of South West Lower Earley’s attitude to any dissenting voices.
      So it’s OK to imply bias and incompetence, from the OSA and even question the role and ability of the Secretary of State for Education as long as it’s in the interests of South West Lower Earley.
      Ever thought South West Lower Earley should have some empathy with people who built their lives around being close to the school, rather than relentlessly sweeping all before them as the pursue what they (and only they) feel is a quest for justice?
      Everyone needs to stand up for their own areas, their own streets and their own communities, otherwise South West Lower Earley will claim their support and tacet approval (as they already have done)
      Fair play to Jacqui, she has seen through the spin and looked at the facts and deduced that the radial tie-break is appropriate for her. Several on line petitioners obviously haven’t, there are peple claiming to be from Wokingham Road supporting a reversion of the decision!!

      Face facts South West Lower Earley, you do have opposition to your plans and there are whole communities in favour of the adjudicator’s decision. However much you slte, deny or censor that opposition, it does exist and always will.

      • Matt K
        Posted October 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

        I don’t even live in SW Earley, and I don’t have kids. You have jumped to the conclusion that because I see Jacqui (and now your) attitude as negative, I must be “the enemy”. I have simply been watching this all unfold, with many well constructed, objective views being put forward. I’ve only commented on what was not only a completely one sided opinion but worse a divisive statement. As others have stated on here, this whole mess is dividing a community which is a terrible state of affairs. I’ve not “slted” anyone, I’m just ashamed at how people can be so personal against people from communties that they’ve never met. Of course everyone has their own agendas, and ultimately wants their children to have the best education, and rightly so. But yours and Jacqui’s attitude seems to be one of “they’re out to get us, stand together, we’re being victimised, we must fight against the enemy.” If you lived in SW Earley and were in the same predicament, you would do EXACTLY the same as those residents are doing – and everybody knows this. So don’t hide behind your “poor us” facade, suggest ways to restore cohesion in this fractured area of WBC, rather than gloat or worse provoke other areas of the same town. Oh and grow up.

  32. Albert Jones
    Posted October 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    “I’m just ashamed at how people can be so personal against people from communties that they’ve never met.”

    “You are the antithesis of what a community entails, and I only hope your children haven’t inherited your narrow mind.”

    • Matt K
      Posted October 12, 2011 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      Thank you for pointing out my hypocrisy. Taking a step back and looking at this whole thread, really shows its utter pointlessness. Not one comment on here is going to change any decision whatsoever, however much people would like that to be the case. What’s worse is that every comment and hot headed reply – mine included – is actually just fuelling a fire which is impossible to put out without doubling the capacity of ME. If all this passion were channeled towards a single goal, not only would that be a lot more effective, but may also work towards rebuilding relations between east and west of the gaza strip (a.k.a Carshalton Way)

  • 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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