All Saints Infants School, located in the heart of the Downshire Square conservation area in Reading, has launched a campaign to double school numbers from the current 60 to 120 pupils. All Saints is a Reading Borough Council LEA school, supported by the Church of England’s Oxford Diocese.
School parents and governors have identified a building, August House, located directly opposite the current school location on Brownlow Road as an ideal building to expand the school. August House, which is up for sale, is owned by Reading Borough Council and has been on the market for several years. The property was previously used as offices by various council departments but is currently vacant.
The school currently has accommodation for 60 children following full time education, who are normally admitted in the September of the school year in which they have their 5th birthday. At seven the children transfer to a junior or primary school. Parents at the school are keen for the school to expand so their children can continue to be educated at All Saints through their primary school years upto year 6.
School parent Marie Groucott, speaking on behalf of other parents and the Friends of All Saints, said: “All Saints is a lovely school with a very caring and safe environment and all our children really enjoy going there. 15 of our school children have to move school this year and we know that many junior schools are over-subscribed and there is huge pressure on school places across Reading Borough. All Saints has no direct feed school and it would therefore be so nice if the children could have an opportunity to continue their junior school education at All Saints and parents could avoid all the uncertainty and stress of re-locating school and worrying about getting their children into their school of choice.”
Marie added: “There is huge support from parents, governors, staff and local residents to see August House turned into school premises and we are currently putting together a formal plan to make this happen which we want to discuss with the Council. There is no question that we are short of school places in Reading and we hope the Council will take seriously our proposal to create another 60 school places rather than trying to sell August House in the middle of a property slump for short-term gain. If local parents and residents want to demonstrate their support for our plans please join the Friends of All Saints School Reading facebook page.”
Alok Sharma, the Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Reading West, who is working with the school’s parents and governors, said: “I fully support this excellent initiative from the parents and governors at All Saints. They are all extremely motivated to expand the school and I very much hope that Reading Borough Council will listen to their proposals with an open mind. The pressure on school places in Reading Borough is not going to go away and creating another 60 places at All Saints will undoubtedly help. The Council needs to demonstrate some imagination and long-term thinking when they review the plan from All Saints. The success of any school is determined by its leadership team, the motivation of the governing body and the positive involvement of parents and in the case of All Saints, everyone is fully behind this initiative.”
Local ward councillor Terry Byrne commented: “This is a wonderful conservation area with a village feel to it and I can completely understand why there is so much support to expand the school into August House. Certainly local residents would rather see the school expand than have another set of flats on this site.”
Councillor Mark Ralph, Conservative education spokesman, added: “The plan to expand the school has clear merits and I will be pressing the council to give the parents and governors a fair hearing when they are ready to present their proposals.”
Photo: Alok Sharma and Cllr Terry Byrne with All Saints head teacher Linda Phillips, parents and pupils outside August House.