Following the successful bid for funding to build a new autism spectrum condition (ASC) school, the council’s executive will discuss the proposed location for the new school next week.
A number of sites in the borough have been considered, taking into account suitability of the site and costs. The preferred location proposed for the new school is the site at Buckler’s Park in Crowthorne, where freehold land would be made available by Cala Homes.
The council’s decision making executive will be asked to agree the site at its meeting on Tuesday 19 September.
Other sites considered had previously been used for education. However they required the council to buy the land at considerable cost. They also needed work to clear and ready the land for construction, which would delay the opening of the school. The site at Buckler’s Park allows for construction to start as soon as planning and design has been finalised, making it the most time and cost-effective option.
Buckler’s Park has always had an education facility earmarked on the site - this was part of the agreed planning for the development. It was originally expected that a 2-form entry primary school would be needed. Since work started on the development, primary pupil numbers in mainstream education in the borough have reduced, while the number of children of all ages with SEND requirements has increased and is due to continue to rise.
The current special school provision in the borough is at capacity and local mainstream schools have sufficient places to accommodate children from the development. From the current data, the addition of a primary school on the site would have a detrimental impact on other local schools, by increasing the number of pupil vacancies.
The majority of primary aged children living in Buckler’s Park attend one of two schools within a mile and a half, with others mainly attending one of the other four primary schools within two and a half miles. Families on the development have a choice of well-established and high quality local primary schools.
If a school is not built on the site, the land will go back to the developer.
The new ASC school will accommodate up to 100 pupils from reception to year 13, with the site providing indoor and outdoor teaching spaces.
Cllr Roy Bailey, executive member for children, young people and learning, said:
“Improving services and opportunities for children and young people with SEND is a big priority and a new autistic spectrum disorder school will provide much needed provision.
“A number of sites were considered, and the proposed site at Buckler’s Park will be considered by the executive at its meeting next week.”
Grainne Siggins, executive director for people, said:
“The Buckler’s Park site offers the best option for both cost and timings in respect of a new autistic spectrum disorder school.
If the executive agrees the location next week, construction work could start as soon as the design and planning stages have been completed with a prospective opening date of September 2026.”