Plans to expand Wilmslow High School

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Cheshire East Council has announced plans to expand Wilmslow High School to meet the need for additional secondary school places in Wilmslow in response to the increasing pupil population and additional pupils from new housing developments.

The Local Authority's proposal is to expand Wilmslow High School from 1500 to 1800 pupil places - from 300 to 360 places for each year group from Year 7 to year 11- from September 2023, or earlier if the expansion works at the school are completed ahead of schedule.

Wilmslow High School is a popular school and the Local Authority has always received applications in excess of the 300 places available per year group. In order to satisfy as many parental preferences for local children as possible the Local Authority, in agreement with the school, has for the last 3 years admitted above the school's Published Admission Number (PAN) of 300 for entry into year 7.

In 2017 there were 330 pupils in Year 7, in 2018 there were 329 and last year the number joining the school in Year 7 rose to 342.

In order to accommodate the additional pupils there has been some remodelling of existing internal spaces. Although this has enabled more local children to be offered a place, 124 local children resident within the school's catchment area have not been offered a place at the school in the past 3 years.

Dr James Pulle, Headteacher of Wilmslow High School commented "As a large school, we are fortunate that we can design and resource a wide range of specialist curriculum provision to ensure that all our students' needs are met. The additional financial resources and building project funding generated by a 12-form entry model have already allowed us to enhance our specialist staffing and resources, and increase our curriculum flexibility, despite the recent years of reduced education funding. This has contributed to the improvements in school performance demonstrated in the government's School Performance Tables and to the successful Ofsted Inspections of 2018 and 2019.

"The Local Authority have now committed to a further substantial investment in new buildings and associated infrastructure if it is determined that the school moves to an official Published Admission Number (PAN) of 360 students per year.

"The Governing Board believe that this proposed investment will bring substantial benefits to the educational experience of our students and, therefore, support the proposal that the school moves to an official Published Admission Number (PAN) of 360 students per year."

He added "This is a rare opportunity, that we are determined to make the most of, to benefit from a considerable investment that will substantially improve our school facilities. Therefore, we look forward to sharing with our parents, carers and students further information on these improvements at the appropriate stage of the design process."

The latest pupil forecasts, based on the October 2018 census data indicate an increasing shortfall which will rise to 425 places across Years 7 to 11 by 2025.

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said "The local authority and the school are aware that the proposed increase does not appear to completely remove the indicated shortfall. However, it will allow some flexibility to monitor the housing developments and respond to changes in provision as required. In addition it is acknowledge that this is an area where a number of pupils choose to attend independent schools although initially may apply for a place at the school but later decline the place offered."

In order to accommodate the additional pupils the school will be re-modelled and enlarged. The proposal includes a single-storey extension of 1,635 m2 to the main building and a further extension of 438 m2 linking the existing Olympic Hall and Sports Hall blocks plus significant internal re-modelling.

The proposed expansion, if approved, will be funded through section 106 contributions from housing developers and Basic Need Grant.

A public drop in session will be held at Wilmslow Library on Tuesday 21st January from 9am to 5pm where representatives from the school and the local authority will be available to answer questions about the proposal and seek your views.

(Update: Following the request from Councillor Jefferay, it has been agreed with Wilmslow Library that the public consultation event on Tuesday 21st regarding the proposed expansion of Wilmslow High School will continue to 6.30pm to allow more people to attend after work. This is as late as the library can allow them to have the room as they have another booking at 7.00pm.)

Alternatively you can complete the Electronic Survey online, complete the paper questionnaire and post it to Cheshire East Borough Council, School Organisation and Capital Strategy Team, Floor 5, Delamere House, C/O Municipal Building, Earle Street, Crewe CW1 2BJ or email: SOCS@cheshireeast.gov.uk.

These will need to be completed by the closing date of Friday 14 February 2020.

At the end of the consultation period all the feedback received will be collated and a report will be prepared and presented to the Council's Cabinet or, if objections are received, the report will then be submitted to the Council's School Organisation Sub Committee for a final decision on the proposal.

Tags:
Wilmslow High School
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Simon Worthington
Thursday 16th January 2020 at 1:54 pm
Why should any expansion of an over large school be funded by section 106 funds? These funds are for the community not for school places for newcomers to the area and should be funded by central government (with our cash of course).
Helene Marshall
Thursday 16th January 2020 at 5:50 pm
Simon. Section 106 money is supposed to be spent to mitigate the cost to the community. This is exactly what s106 money is for. This is is no reflection on whether the school should or shouldn’t get bigger.
Lynne Prescott
Friday 17th January 2020 at 8:00 pm
This absolutely needs to happen. I just question whether they are thinking big enough though. With 4000 homes to be built in the local plan, including the North Cheshire Growth Village, will census data reflect the actual influx of people into Wilmslow and Handforth, especially as the vast majority of housing planned is for families with children eg 3 to 5 bed houses? There has been mention in the past of building a new high school in Handforth area and I wonder whether two Hugh schools rather than one super12 form high school would give better educational outcomes?
Jake Morris
Saturday 18th January 2020 at 11:23 am
I go to this school and I honestly do not see any need to expand it. It is big enough as it is and would be overwhelming for new students joining
Roger Bagguley
Saturday 18th January 2020 at 5:41 pm
Jake - You raise a very valid point and from a consumer point of view.

Lynne - Without doubt this is a classic case of expansion without infrastructure being in place. It has been coming for a number of years. A new school at Handforth is the RoW preferred option but, with the Handforth Village not yet secured and the Greater Manchester Local Plan not yet committing the number coming our way in their local plan there is an immediate problem to be solved.

It is looking like CEC is planning for 2000 pupils at WHS long term without addressing the access problem and without taking into account the issues presented for neighbours today, let alone moving forward.

There is a public drop in consultation at the library on 21st. RoW will commit to commenting after visiting this event and questioning in depth the council officers present.
Helen Hayes
Saturday 18th January 2020 at 8:52 pm
Personally I think WHS has coasted for too many years as it’s the only High School in the area. Build a new school and give parents and students choice.
Alan Brough
Sunday 19th January 2020 at 10:16 am
I agree with Helen and others - WHS is already at full capacity for it's situation.

The answer should be another school. However, expansion of WHS is by far the cheaper option and so that's what the Council will approve - irrespective of the damage it will do to education or to the wider infrastructure.
Paul Millett
Wednesday 22nd January 2020 at 7:28 pm
What a shame Thorngrove isn't there anymore
Simon Worthington
Thursday 23rd January 2020 at 3:17 pm
My point was that Section 106 funds are for the local community NOT to provide school places for those moving from London as soon as their kids approach 11.
Roger - I think you will find the school (orginally intended to have maximum 1500 pupils) now has 7 school years and over 2200 pupils (with no locker or storage facilities so the kids have to haul their bags around all day or have them nicked).
The answer is, and has been for some time, to build a new school around Handforth where some 600 pupils at WHS live. Bramhall, Poynton, Knutsford, Woods Lane and Cheadle Broadway are all also full to bursting. Alternatively build a sixth form centre/college to cater for a wide area. !000 would sign up on day one. A perfect place to purchase under a compulsory order would be the Royal London site!!!!!!!!!!!
Pete Taylor
Friday 24th January 2020 at 9:26 am
Roger Bagguley
Friday 24th January 2020 at 10:26 am
On the expansion of WHS I attended the drop in event at the library hoping to hear about forward planning rather than just about firefighting an
immediate issue. I wanted to hear about plans for a new school at Handforth and about a solution to the current access problem that will bring relief to the beleaguered neighbours and to the town. (RoW policy) Whilst it was good
to view the internal plans for the building that will enable this growing school population to function effectively there was little else to rejoice but for the possibility a drop off point for coaches is being considered, accessed from the A34.

The current pupil numbers situation (been coming for a long time) appears to be being managed well but continuing to expand the school on this site cannot go on forever. RoW will continue to assert a new school is required
to enable WHS to reduce in size, to provide Handforth and neighbouring local authorities with a community school and to bring relief to the long suffering folk living close by in Wilmslow.

We at RoW are keen to be involved in this school debate.
Jim Caulkett
Saturday 25th January 2020 at 9:26 pm
Roger. I also attended the drop in event that CEC, the school and the architects had attended from 8:30 to 6:30pm - they should be appreciated for the your time to support any concerns or information that any of the public have. To say the only benefits you saw from the meeting was the proposed drop off arrangements was disappointing. All at the drop in went out of their way to explain in detail the benefits of enhanced teaching, more floor space, easier transition for pupils and staff around the school, more staff to enable enhanced teaching and curriculum variation. The proposed plans albeit at an interim stage gave a very good indication of the benefits of the expansion which I very much doubt will be granted if the PAN remains the same. Also interesting to see the current year numbers are over for the last couple of years ( this was also demonstrated at the drop in) so in effect the school manages effectively at present and will continue to do so. CEC also shared a concentric plan of spaces in other schools showing catchment of a similar distance for Handforth residents and the dilemma of available areas to build a new school which are very limited. I also point to the excellent Ofsted report last year which I hope will give all residents and parents comfort of the current oversight and also the strategy for the school to maintain the high levels of safety to staff and pupils, academic results and partnership in the community. As a parent I am proud of the schools performance and fully endorse this expansion.
Maria Quin
Saturday 25th January 2020 at 10:57 pm
Thank Heavens for RoW! I can actually feel the care and common sense they are injecting into important decisions for the people who live here. Long may you continue your forward thinking and protective work for us!

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