Hoe Valley School
It has been announced that the Hoe Valley School is to remain in its current temporary location at Woking Park for a year longer than originally planned. Although Woking Borough Council and the Secretary of State have granted approval for a new school on Egley Road, delays in agreeing how the building will be funded has meant that the expected completion date of September 2017 has had to be pushed back, and it will therefore no longer be possible to remove the temporary until the end of 2018.
I apprciate that this will cause some frustration to residents living near the park, particularly in areas like Woodlands, Blackness Lane and Constitution Hill. However, the council is doing everything it can to to expedite the move to Egley Road as quickly as possible. It is also the case that fears about the impact of the school being housed temporarily in the park, such as increased noise disturbance and greater traffic flows, haven’t materialised to the extent that people thought they would. I have been impressed with the good work that is being done at the Hoe Valley School and by the governors’ willingness to proactively reach out to councillors and residents so they can address any problems before they arise.
The new Egley Road site will bring tremendous community benefits once it is complete, including an additional 840 places for pupils in south Woking as well as state of the art leisure facilities, a five-court sports hall and an eight-lane, all weather athletics track. We should all do what we can to press ahead with the project – even if that means keeping the temporary buildings in the park for the time being.
The temporary location for the new Hoe Valley School has been announced and agreed by the Executive. The plan is for the school to operate out of interim accommodation in an area adjoining Woking Park. The school will open to pupils from September and move to a permanent location in South Woking after two years.
The establishment of Hoe Valley School is a fantastic achievement by residents and parents who have put in a great deal of time, effort and their own resources to help meet the education needs of children in Woking. The borough is short of school places, particularly in South Woking where there has been a great deal of new housing development in the last few years. Particular credit is due to the head teacher Penny Alford and the project coordinator Claerwyn Hamilton-Wilkes. I wish them well in their endeavours and am confident the school will be a success.
There have been concerns raised by residents in the areas immediately around the park such as Constitution Hill and Poplar Grove that temporarily locating the school in the park will create noise disturbance and disruption to traffic flows, particularly on Kingfield Road. However, I am confident that every effort will be made to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum. I look forward to working with the school and residents and seeing both sides engage in dialogue to iron out any issues that may emerge.
The Department of Education has approved plans to set up a new mainstream secondary school for 11 to 18 year olds in South Woking. The school is being founded by local parents, teachers, volunteers and business people to address the growing need for school places in Woking as a result of an increasing birth rate and more families moving into the area from other parts of the country.
The Hoe Valley Free School will be the second free school in Surrey and the first of its kind in Woking. Free schools are non-profit making, independent and state funded schools which are free to attend but are not controlled by the local authority. They can be established by parents, education charities and religious groups. Free schools are expected to offer a balanced curriculum in line with national performance standards, and are subject to the same inspection regime as other schools.
Many free schools have gone on to achieve fantastic results. Three quarters of free schools have been rated as outstanding or good by Ofsted at first inspection, so this is a tremendous opportunity for the borough which will help ensure that more children can attend a good quality secondary school close to where they live.
The planned opening date for the school is September 2015 and work is ongoing to find a temporary and then a more permanent location in South Woking. There will obviously be challenges ahead in identifying a suitable site for the school, and any new development which impacts on residents will obviously be a matter for public consultation. Given the potential impact and benefits that this project will bring to families in Mount Hermon, my colleagues and I will be taking a close interest in ensuring that any location found for the school is both suitable and sustainable.