Last night, I attended a meeting at Millbrook Primary School to hear more about plans to deliver a new school for Grove. The evening consisted of workshops where parents and residents had an opportunity to express their views. It was a very constructive evening with many positive and helpful suggestions about how the new school would become.
This has long been a campaign I have been involved with in the village for over 25 years, when the school bus was removed by Oxfordshire County Council taking children from Grove to Wantage. I formed a 'Save the School Bus' campaign group and after presenting a petition to the Education Committee, schoolchildren and parents were given a year's grace, before the bus was stopped altogether. Since then, our children have had to make their own way to all 3 secondary school sites in Wantage. Even now, as a local county councillor, I spend a lot of time dealing with casework on this issue. Time for some change I think!
When the Grove Airfield development appeared on the horizon, and the plans showed provision for a new secondary school in Grove, hopes rose that at long last this may happen. Indeed, much debate started again on this issue and one can see from my blog which started in 2007, I was headlining this topic!
Well, here we are nearly 10 years later, and as the Airfield site still hasn't delivered to date, I was pleased to hear that the Vale Academy Trust has now become proactive on this matter. As new housing development has already taken place around the area and school places are becoming filled year by year as families move in, it now looks a good time to revisit the original plans.
The new school would aim to provide seamless education from 2 - 16, and would also provide community facilities we have been lacking for several years. It will also mean that our schoolchildren will no longer have to travel at least 2 miles to reach secondary school with our ever-increasing busy roads and lack of proper cycle tracks or footpaths on the route. A sixth form for the school has not been ruled out.
I look forward to keeping residents informed how this bid progresses, as I understand the case for the new school is being presented to the Department for Education by the deadline tomorrow. The new school, which could be called 'Grove Academy' expects to open in 2019, if all goes to plan. Meanwhile, watch this space!