Popular primary looks set to go three-form entry

thisisoxfordshire: Windmill head Lynn Knapp Windmill head Lynn Knapp

OXFORDSHIRE could soon have its first three-form entry primary school.

Consultations have begun on proposals to permanently change the intake at Windmill Primary School, Headington, from 60 to 90.

Last year the school took 90 children in reception for the first time and a further 90 started school last week, but the change was agreed as a temporary measure.

Now Oxfordshire County Council is asking for views on plans which would eventually see the school expand from about 480 pupils now to 630 pupils by 2017.

With three new classes of 30 pupils starting each September it would make it the largest primary school in the county in five years with a cohort as big as some secondaries.

Headteacher Lynn Knapp said she had mixed feelings. “This year we turned down a further 87 applications,” she explained.

“I don’t like thinking of children being taken across the city in taxis, but at the same time it would be a very large school and that brings with it lots of challenges.”

She added: “At the moment I know all the children by name and something about them and I’m determined not to lose that.”

If the change is made permanent new classrooms will be needed. A feasibility study is underway to examined how to accommodate them.

Chairman of governors Mayte Siswick, who is also a parent with two children at Windmill, said: “We would prefer not to expand, but if we don’t have a choice then I think we just have to make sure we make the best of it and get as many resources as we can.”

She said the school would ultimately need at least another seven teachers and possibly additions to the senior management team, while the school hall is not large enough to cater for 630 children.

Kate King, 40, from Headington, has two children at the school, Freya, four, and Heidi, seven, and said: “I can’t imagine transforming the school from its current size to 600 plus children is a good thing. The infrastructure doesn’t exist.”

Louise Noonan, mum to five-year-old Windmill pupil Evie, also opposed the plans.

She said: “Even though it is a large primary school it has a lovely friendly atmosphere and community and I just worry further expansion will compromise that.”

The school had told the county it wanted to revert to a 60-child intake but was told there was considerable pressure on places and a formal consultation would be launched.

More than 300 extra reception places have been created in Oxford since 2006 – the equivalent of 10 new classes.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “Windmill School has a great reputation with people who want their children to attend their local school.

““If Windmill did not expand, many children who live nearby would not be able to go to the school they want.”

A public meeting on the proposals is being held at the school on Thursday, September 20, at 7pm.

  • What do you think? Write to Viewpoints, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0EJ or email letters@oxfordmail..co.uk

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