PLANNING permission has now been sought for a school near Winchester looking to secure extra places.
In response to the growing demand on primary school places, Colden Common Primary School has announced plans to develop two new classrooms to allow a further 35 places across the school per year.
As previously reported in the Chronicle, there are plans to accommodate a further five children per year group at its site on Upper Moors Road in preparation for the 250 houses that will be developed in the village over the next 20 years.
Councillor Keith Mans, executive lead member for children’s services at Hampshire County Council, said: “The extension of Colden Common Primary School will create 35 new school places as part of our aim to deliver quality education local to where children live and where parents want them to go. We’re making a huge £149 million investment, building 8,000 places across Hampshire over the next few years.
“Design proposals at Colden Common are still in development stage, but I’m impressed with the way colleagues are all working together with the community to achieve the best solutions for all concerned. There will be two new classrooms and a room for small group work that links through to the existing classrooms and shared areas including the school hall. We’re also considering improving the school’s outdoor play areas to give children the very best learning environment.
“We want to ensure that the design will be in keeping with the style of the existing building. Our award winning Hampshire Property Services has earned a national reputation for the quality of their school design and I’m looking forward to seeing another successful completion.”
The move means many parents will not have to separate their children as a result of limited spaces.
Jo Nicholson, mum of Elsie, six, Martha, four, and Tilly, one, has been campaigning to get Elsie into Colden Common for two years. She’ll join Martha in September and it means more time with each other for the family.
“We live 0.4 miles from the school and we spent a long time campaigning on the grounds that the school wasn’t big enough to meet the need,” Mrs Nicholson said. “We’re really chuffed with what’s happened. It’s very emotional that we’re leaving Otterbourne because it’s still such a good school. We’ve been on a really long emotional journey with this and the result is great but the council should be getting this right in the first instance. I know a lot of people who are working very hard at Colden Common school but the school was never big enough with the size the village was.
“I couldn’t say anything more positive about Otterbourne but it’s about being able to walk to school and being a part of the community. Every time we drive past the school my daughter gets so excited and points and says ‘look mummy, that’s my new school’. She’ll see other children she was at tots with and as parents we’ve done all we can.”
Steve Brine, MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, also backed the campaign.
"I think every school rightly keeps their numbers under review but head teachers and governors, working as they do on behalf of current parents, have to think about a lot more than solving the council’s problem of a bulge year or large scale new housing development,” he said. “They have to balance the existing school community and be sure any expansion at reception year can be sustained as the children move through the school.
“I know the team in Colden Common didn’t take this decision lightly and they were right to take their time given past experience with an expensive surplus of places at the school. But I also know the families with young children, like myself, who will now be able to become part of this school in September are so very relieved and pleased it’s been possible. I think the school with continue to thrive.”