Angry parents launch campaign over delays to opening of ‘crucial’ new Leamington school

Warwickshire County Council confirmed the new school off Harbury Lane will not be ready to open until September 2024, one year later than had been first announced

Kelly and son William, Jenny and her two children, Isabelle and Jessie, and husband Adrian, with Matt Western MP.
Kelly and son William, Jenny and her two children, Isabelle and Jessie, and husband Adrian, with Matt Western MP.

Angry parents have launched a campaign after the opening of a ‘crucial’ new Leamington school was delayed by a year.

Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has offered his backing and accused regional councils of failing residents at the new Oakley Grove development in Bishop’s Tachbrook.

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Warwickshire County Council confirmed the new school off Harbury Lane will not be ready to open until September 2024, one year later than had been promised.

Kelly and son William, Jenny and her two children, Isabelle and Jessie, and husband Adria, with Matt Western MP.

A Facebook group with nearly 140 members has been created with the aim of lobbying the council into accelerating construction and creating a temporary school for the estate’s Year 7 and reception starters while works progress.

WCC is planning to offer temporary schooling for Year 7s while reception students will have to look for places at existing schools with limited places.

Mr Western visited the site to meet more than 20 parents and he said there was no obvious sign of any works going ahead.

Resident campaigners Jenny Bevan and Kelly-Anne Box have accused the councils and the developer of breaking their promise to those families who moved to the area.

Mr Western said the site of the new school should have been at the centre of the new estate, rather than on the edge.

“Not only should the crucial new school be at the heart of the Oakley Grove development rather than on peripheral, sloping, marginal land - but its opening has also now been hit with delays," he said.

Parents and children are now faced with the least bad option of the council financing a temporary school – because the idea of forcing extra pupils into the district’s other already oversubscribed schools is not worth considering.

“It would also force families to travel to more distant schools by car, exacerbating the already poor air quality in the towns.

“If, as I am told, the idea is that the school will fill one year at a time, siblings could well be placed in different schools undermining the sense of community a school can bring.

“Parents are also concerned that the new school in Kenilworth, that was planned at the same time, is on track to open in September in 2023 - whereas they face a delay.”

He has written to Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe demanding a firm plan to help the stranded school starters.

He also asked who will be carrying the additional cost burden caused by the delays and any temporary school – after complications surrounding the transfer of the land.

Bishop’s Tachbrook resident and mum-of-three Ms Box said: “I live next to the proposed site of Oakley Grove school and have children that would hopefully eventually attend the secondary school there.

“Parents at the kids’ primary school feel so let down by the council and children aren't being thought about.

“All those families that moved their lives to this area with the promise of their kids attending the new school have been left hanging.”

Mum-of-two Ms Bevan – who has been campaigning for the school for years – said: “Part of the draw of living in Bishop's Tachbrook is the fact a brand-new primary, secondary and special needs school is going to be built within walking distance of our homes.

“Parents and their children have an anxious 18 months ahead of them, unsure where they will find a space for them.

“With young people's education and wellbeing badly affected by the pandemic, the last thing they need is further anxiety about the future of their education.”

In response to the concerns, Cllr Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for children, families and education at Warwickshire County Council, said: "The council is aware that the local community require assurances about school place availability from September 2023.

"We are currently developing plans to ensure that sufficient places will be available in the local area.

"We will be in a position to communicate these arrangements more widely from mid-May."