Academy plans for Oakwood School

Simon Potten, head of Oakwood School
Simon Potten, head of Oakwood School

Oakwood School has launched two consultations with parents - one about expansion and the other about its plans to become an academy.

The school, in Balcombe Road, Horley, aims to join the University of Brighton Academies Trust - which already runs two schools in Crawley - from September. The consultation started on Tuesday (May 2) and will run until Tuesday June 20.
Headteacher Simon Potten said: “We are confident that a partnership with the university and its trust will provide exciting new opportunities and the best future for the school. It will build on our successes to date and help us improve further.
"Oakwood School is in a strong position to contribute a variety of experience, skills and expertise to the trust and is excited to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with other schools in the future.”
David Brown, chairman of governors, said: “Our school’s governing body has carefully looked at a variety of organisations which currently support and sponsor schools.
"We believe that the University of Brighton Academies Trust's vision and values are complementary to our own, and that joining the trust will ensure we are well placed to face the challenges ahead, while building on the good-quality education we provide.”
A consultation meeting will be held at the school on Tuesday May 23, where parents will be able to meet governors and representatives of the trust.
The one-hour meeting will start at 6.30pm.
As well as seeking academy status, Oakwood is in the process of applying to expand.
In an attempt to accommodate an increasing demand for places, the school hopes to expand from eight forms of entry to 10 by September 2019.
This would result in an eventual roll of 1,500 students, with additional classrooms and ancillary spaces being built to accommodate them.
Encouraging parents to take part in the consultation, Mr Potten said the school had been in negotiation with Surrey County Council “for some time now”.
Oakwood is the only secondary school in Horley and, while it currently takes on 240 children in Year 7, projections for the coming years see demand rising as high as 307 by 2022/23.
The expansion proposal, which was published in April, stated: “Reigate & Banstead is experiencing a significant increase in the demand for school places, reflecting both a significant rise in birth rate and increased house building and migration within the area.”
Mr Potten said the expansion could create seven teaching jobs.
Looking at the cost of the project, he said he "would like to see a bit more commitment" from Surrey County Council when it came to financing, and was determined to provide "the best possible environment" for his students.
With education budgets stretched to the limit, that commitment may be out of the local authority's reach.
Mr Potten said: "You have to look at what we would wish for and what is a necessity and balance it against what money there is in the pot."

The academy consultation documents can be found at www.brighton.ac.uk .

The expansion consultation documents can be found at www.oakwood.surrey.sch.uk.


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