‘Pupils should be starting at new Leamington school – but instead they face a building site’, says MP
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As pupils return to schools for the start of the new term this week, those who were set to attend the new Oakley School in Bishops Tachbrook near Leamington “face a building site”.
These are the words of Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western, who has attacked Warwickshire County Council (WCC) over the 12-month delay to the school opening and the cost of the project going £10 million over budget.
Permission to build the school - to provide for the adjacent new Oakley Grove estate and other new housing estates nearby - was granted by Warwick District Council’s (WDC) planning committee in 2019.
Mr Western said parents who moved onto the estates were promised a brand-new facility ready for their children in September 2023, which would provide all-through education from ages 4-18.
The MP raised the issue in Parliament in April 2023, calling for a debate on the delivery of infrastructure in new housing developments and has said residents have been “badly let down” by WCC and the former administration at WDC.
He said: “Oakley School was due to open its doors this week but parents and children are faced with a building site not the new school they were promised as delays mean the school will not open until September 2024 - a year behind schedule.”
Matt Western has also said that questions need to be asked about the huge increase to the cost of the school, now set to cost over £60 million, an increase of £10 million or 20 per cent.
He said: “Oakley School should have been ready this week and opening its doors to the first cohort of pupils but, instead, it’s a year behind schedule and £10 million over budget.
“Children have been badly let down and their parents are understandably frustrated by the impact this will have on their education.”
Katie Arundell moved to Oakley Grove in 2018.
She was hoping for her child to attend Oakley School from year 7 and have the benefit of attending one school from age 11 up to 18.
But her child and others will instead attend a purpose-built facility on the site of Myton School this school year
She said: “We feel we have been really let down.
“They will now have to spend a year at Myton and then move to Oakley next September.
"It’s already such a big change and adjustment going to secondary school and I fear we’re making them have that massive change twice in such quick succession.”
WCC’s portfolio holder for education Councillor Kam Kaur said the council has made “ substantial progress on its project to establish a comprehensive educational facility”.
She added: “Despite the commendable progress, it's important to note that the project has encountered challenges related to rising building material costs and construction expenses.
"To ensure the successful delivery of the project, an additional investment of £5 million has been secured, supplementing the initial £56 million investment confirmed in December 2022.
“This proactive measure ensures that the project can continue to meet its objectives and provide a high-quality educational environment for our students and the wider community.”