PARENTS are outraged after council chiefs confirmed the long-promised Oakley Grove School at Bishop’s Tachbrook will not only open at least a year late but also without a sixth form.
Residents of the nearby newly-built Oakley Grove estate, off Harbury Lane, say they were promised a convenient school for their children as a condition for the homes receiving planning permission from Warwick District Council.
But Warwickshire County Council (WCC), as the education authority, announced in March the school would not be ready for pupils until 2024 – a year later than initially planned.
And now WCC has said there will also be no sixth form at the new school.
A campaign group, including more than 200 disgruntled parents, has slammed the council over plans to send children to Myton School in Warwick for a year before they move to the new school.
They are concerned that, in addition to a year of disrupted learning, they will now have to wait several more years before post-16 education is offered at the school.
Mum-of-two Jenny Bevan said: “WCC took its eye off the ball some years ago when it failed to plan ahead for the surge in demand for school places caused by the new housing developments south of Warwick and Leamington.
“Now families are paying the price with a long delayed, much compromised school.
“It makes me so worried there won’t be enough local sixth form places for our children because yet again no one is looking far enough ahead.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western has joined in the criticism of WCC which he says has ‘failed the area’s children’.
But WCC say another sixth form was not urgently needed in the area and that when the Oakley Grove project was originally approved last September the council was clear that a sixth form was not included.
However, WCC say the existing planning permission included an option for a 300-place sixth form at Oakley Grove at a later date.
A WCC spokesperson told The Observer: “All five of the existing state funded secondary schools in the Warwick/Leamington area have sixth forms. The inclusion of a sixth form at Oakley Grove is not required at the present time due to sufficient sixth form capacity in existing provision.
“Further sixth capacity is currently being created at Myton School as part of the 6th form teaching block that will provide a short-term facility to accommodate Oakley Grove School year 7 from September 2023.
“Further opportunities for the expansion of sixth form provision at existing schools will be explored as and when required.”
Parents and Mr Western have already called on WCC to immediately start building the new school on the more accessible, flat site next to Harbury Lane and the junction of Oakley Wood Road which is currently set aside for 150 new homes.
They say this would resolve the disagreement with the landowner over the transfer of the more distant, sloping site developer AC Lloyd secured for the school.
Labour MP Mr Western said: “The Conservative run-councils in the area must put children’s educations before profit and cancel the 150-home development and begin work on the school immediately in its place.
“It is even more important now after we’ve been told there will be no sixth form either.
“If the school was built on the site intended for the homes it could be built in time for 2023 and no child would have their learning affected.”