Loughton Residents Association

Education

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LRA takes particular interest in the standard of schools and the availability of places for Loughton’s children. Essex County Council is the Local Education Authority (LEA) for Loughton, and Chris Pond, LRA County Councillor for Loughton Central Division (wards: Alderton, Fairmead, St John’s, St Mary’s), oversees local education matters, including monitoring the number of school places available. For other areas, contact Cllr Valerie Metcalf (Cons: Forest and Roding wards) or Cllr John Knapman (Cons: Broadway ward)

LRA school governors
LRA councillors and members of the committee keep informed of issues and activities in local education by serving on governing bodies of most of Loughton’s schools. The order of priority for new Local Education Authority appointments is now: nomination by the Local Member for the school; nomination by any other Member or arising from an ECC Area Forum; nomination by the governing body for the school; self-nomination. If anyone would like to serve as a school governor, please contact us.

Epping Forest College (November 2013)
In recent years, LRA has been very concerned about the College's finances, and about their poor performance. For the latest Ofsted reports, see here

The College would like to install an all-weather pitch on Lucton's Field (across Borders Lane), fenced off for security but without levelling the land and without any sports hall (space would be provided for dog-walkers)

LRA and local residents were very concerned that travellers might gain access through the open gateway on Borders Lane, and LRA successfully asked for a barrier and ditch to be installed.
Adults who have benefited from developing skills and interests at the college have been disappointed by the closure of many classes or by more-than-doubled fees. Government policy, redirecting funding towards the 16-19 age group, is blamed. LRA councillors have raised this with the Minister responsible for 'Lifelong Learning', and have pressed Essex County Council to support some general interest classes in the Loughton area, as they do in Epping and Ongar.

Loughton Hall and the Sports Hall have now been sold off.

More.

Other

Oaklands school, Albion Hill (December 2015)
The school has put out a letter to nearby residents to say they will be applying for planning permission for a parking area, with an entrance from Warren Hill, for staff & visitor parking and to act as an off-road drop-off & pick-up area for parents. They are also asking to be allowed to take an extra 30 pupils. At the school’s invitation I have been down to see the site. This will also involve County Highways and, as it’s Forest land, the City of London. When the formal application appears, the LRA Plans Group will put out details to nearby residents to get their views.

Primary school place application period now open (December 2015)
Parents and carers of children born during the period 1 September 2011 and 31 August 2012 must apply between 9 November 2015 and 15 January 2016 for primary school places for the 2016-17 intake (more). The website also enables parents to search for the school information, read Ofsted reports and check admissions criteria.

School admissions (May 2015)
Last year, LRA Cllr Chris Pond spent a lot of time helping to sort out admissions problems at Staples Road school – so far, this year appears better, with only 9 children in the catchment area (compared with 32 last time) not having been offered places. Any parents affected by admissions problems may like to contact their County Cllr

Unplanned school closures (January 2015)
A new online notification system has been launched to keep parents up-to-date. More

Roding Valley High School (January 2015)
The school plans to increase by one form entry from 240 to 270 pupils per year from September 2018 – we understand that the extra numbers are needed to cope with a “bulge” in numbers at RVHS’s feeder schools.

Staples Road School extension
Despite considerable local concern from residents about traffic & parking, the County Council plans committee have approved the planning application, subject to a condition requiring redesign of the windows. (LRA County Cllr Chris Pond and the LRA Plans Group had objected as we felt that the window design was unsuitable in a Conservation Area, and Chris spoke at the meeting).
The County’s detailed analysis
Demolition of the toilets & the demountable classroom will start forthwith. The annexe will be built during the 2015 summer holidays.

Parents - it’s time to apply for primary school places.
Don’t miss out. More

Staples Road School
The County Council has formally approved the expansion of the school to 630 places (from 525) from September 2015. The County Council has approved a planning application the extra accommodation which will be needed. More

Epping Forest College (EFC)

  • Presentation on the Strategic Direction of Epping Forest College. More

  • Performance: they now have a 93% retention rate (in the top 5% of FE Colleges in the country) and an 87% success rate (in the top 10% of FE colleges in the country). This year they had about 417 students currently sitting their English and Maths GCSE and 1,800+ students sitting functional skills.

  • Library: when the college was redeveloped some years ago, the Debden Library was relocated just off the main reception area -some members of the local community were not comfortable coming into such a busy area. EFC are therefore considering providing a location that would give the library its own entrance, and providing special offers at their restaurant and other facilities.

  • Community: EFC are also forging closer ties with the Loughton Youth Centre, and establishing a whole breath of activities with the local community

  • The future: EFC is currently preparing a report on the future of the college, targeting 2017.

  • Luctons field (Borders Lane, opposite the college). Part of EFC’s report will deal with plans for the field, which will include a sports hall/facility and a skate park, funded by selling off about 5 acres (out of 11  acres) of the field for affordable housing. The facilities would be shared with the Community and part of the field would become a public park. Work is at an early stage – they want to encourage public engagement and that nothing at this stage is ruled out or in. The sports hall may include a basketball court or similar, and the College’s middle site might include a football field. The eventual plans could only go ahead if funded by the housing and grants as EFC has no other money available. It will probably take a while before the public consultation documents are ready to go out as there is a lot more preparatory work to do. We will keep members informed.

Roding Valley High School (July 2014)
Essex County Council has decided to sell off the tennis court site on the corner of Roding Road and Alderton Hill. The proceeds will be used towards:

  • providing replacement tennis courts and improved sports facilities on the school playing fields (by the Underground line).
  • expanding the school to deliver sixth form provision (already approved to open in September 2016 in conjunction with three other schools).
  • repaying a historic loan from the Council to school funds.
  • expanding the school by 30 pupils in each year group (from 2018).

The Council will now market the site and if suitable offers are received there will be a 6 week public consultation (probably in September) as part of the necessary application to the Secretary of State for consent to dispose of playing field land. The Council will also need Sport England’s approval of the replacement sports facilities.
If these approvals are obtained, the purchasers will need to obtain planning permission from the District Council for any proposed building on the site. We will keep LRA members up-to-date with progress.

Sixth Form provision
LRA Cllr Chris Pond has been pressing hard for sixth-form provision in Loughton since 2008, when he first raised it at a Full County Council meeting. The Dept. of Education has now approved proposals covering Roding Valley High School, Debden Park High School, St John’s School, Epping & King Harold Business and Enterprise Academy, Waltham Abbey, which will involve small amounts of building expansion at Roding Valley, Debden Park and St John’s.

Places for children starting school in September (June 2014)
Following the problems which resulted from too many children applying for local places, Staples Road School have decided to bring some of their planned September 2015 expansion forward to this September, & the County Council have sent out offers of places to the next 15 children on the waiting list. The Council will also try to find space in a Loughton school for the 3 children allocated to schools in Nazeing or Waltham Abbey.

LRA Cllrs Chris Pond and Ken Angold-Stephens have been working with the school and County Officers to bring this about.

Sixth form in Loughton (May 2014)
Contrary to recent claims that others were solely responsible, LRA's County Cllr, Chris Pond, actually started pressing for local sixth forms in 2008, and has been heavily involved throughout – we’re happy to acknowledge the work of all the other people in the schools involved, and at the County Council. We're glad to see his initiative is coming to fruition, and will keep you informed.

White Bridge Infant & Junior Schools (May 2014)
You can respond to the consultation document on the proposed merger of these schools at. There will be public meetings to discuss the proposals at the Infant school (Greensted Road) at 2pm and 7pm (no booking needed). More

Places for children starting school in September (May 2014)
Thanks to those parents who’ve told us that the lack of places for children in school priority catchment areas applies to several schools in the area. LRA County Cllr Chris Pond would like to hear from any families across Loughton (including Debden) who are affected, particularly those who have been allocated a place in a school outside the area or who have older siblings already at a local school which is now oversubscribed. Let us know at contact@loughtonresidents.co.uk

One mother has found that her child has been allocated to a school in Waltham Abbey and that, although the County Council provide a taxi for the journey, she’s not allowed to accompany her child – if you are aware of any other cases like this, please let us know at contact@loughtonresidents.co.uk

For those who were unable to obtain a place at their first choice of school, but have successfully been allocated a place at another local school, your child should still get a good education. All local infant and primary schools in the area have been assessed in the last 2 years under the new, very challenging, OFSTED framework and all were found to be Good -Hereward was Outstanding.
More
News article

Roding Valley High School (RVHS) age-range (March 2014)
As part of proposals by a consortium of schools to start a 6th-form in the District, RVHS is proposing to admit pupils post-16, and to increase the maximum number of pupils from 1,200 to 1,375. Any comments to the school by March 12th. (Debden Park High School is also involved, but has not so far advertised a similar change in the local Guardian. The other schools are Epping St John’s and King Harold Academy).

Staples Road Primary School (March 2014)
The school could undergo significant development to expand from the current two and a half form entry to three form entry next year. Residents are worried that another 105 parents taking their children to school each day would bring the area to a halt and are demanding radical action to provide for parking. Local planning approval will be put out for local consultation within the next couple of months.
More
and the Essex County Council proposal

County Council Home to School Transport Policy changes (March 2014)
More (item 3)

Ofsted report on Valley Hill Nursery, Pre-School and Kid's club (Langston Road)
More
The Centre is challenging the report. News article

County Council Strategy for Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) - 2014-19
More (click on icon for December 17th Cabinet Meeting papers (item 5) )

County Council Children’s services under scrutiny. The County consultation has now closed, and we await their conclusions. LRA Cllrs Leon Girling and Jenny Hart have been very active in encouraging residents to respond, and questioning the Council about their plans. More

Epping Forest College (December 2013)
Five years ago Epping Forest College, which has a student population of approximately 4,000, was on the verge of financial meltdown (due to the cost of an expansion) and was judged inadequate by Ofsted. Jeannie Wright was among a group of experts called in to devise a rescue plan and she was only expected to spend three months at the college. Now she is finally leaving after five years having turned the college’s fortunes around, with Ofsted praising its leadership and the progress made (there’s still more to do!). Vice Principal for the College of North West Kent, Penny Morgan, will take over.
News article

Essex Schools – Academy status. (November 2013)
Currently around 80% of all Essex secondary schools and 10% of Essex pre-secondary schools have academy status.

Pupil referral units. Schools in West Essex have stated that they do not intend to commission places at the West Essex Children’s Support Service (CSS) and have asked for the associated funding to be devolved to them to collectively make provision for pupils unable to attend school due to behaviour or illness. The County Council is holding a consultation to invite views on the closure of the West Essex CSS. More (scroll down to West Essex Pupil Referral Unit, Harlow)

Home to School transport consultation: the Council are looking to make savings on the discretionary parts of the service – if your family uses the service please comment now. More

Schools results. We understand that Roding Valley High School exam results were their best ever at 83% 5A-C and 64% 5A-C incl. English and Maths (their previous best was 79% and 57% respectively).

Secondary school places: time to apply.

  • Parents and carers must apply between 31 August and 31 October 2013 to secure a “year seven” secondary school place for September 2014, and can do so via the website, which also enables parents to search for school information, read Ofsted reports, and check admissions criteria and catchment areas
  • Although the County Council is able to provide most families with their preferred school, schools can become oversubscribed so the Council recommends that parents use all their preferences and list their local school as one of their preferences. Parents should also carefully consider the admissions criteria of each school for which they wish to apply, and must make sure they apply in time.

Alderton Infant School and Alderton Junior School. Due to increases in the population, several Loughton primary schools have been reviewed to assess the best way of providing additional accommodation Following the expansion of Hereward Primary school by 0.5 form entry (fe) for 2014, further places are still required and it is intended to expand Alderton Infant school from a 2fe to a 3 fe for 2015. The school has been asked to admit an additional 30 pupils from September 2014 and they are able to do this using existing accommodation. This provides sufficient time to organise additional permanent accommodation by expanding the schools. (We expect that there may also be plans to expand Staples Road school.)

New 6th form in Loughton: a consortium of Debden Park High School, King Harold Business and Enterprise Academy, St John’s Church of England VC School, and Roding Valley High School is working collaboratively to provide further education and to each provide a new Sixth Form College on their site. More information, particularly for those involved or interested in Debden Park High School. This would fill a serious gap in the local education provision.

School Catchment - Great Woodcote Park (November 2013)
When Great Woodcote Park (GWP – off the High Road towards Buckhurst Hill) was planned as a residential area, despite LRA and Town Council objections, it was put into the Priority Admission Area (“Catchment”) of The White Bridge Infant and Junior Schools in Greensted Road, about a 2-mile walk or drive. In 2013 the County Council proposed to transfer GWP into the Staples Road School catchment area, LRA Cllr Sharon Weston delivered a letter to all the properties, adding as a further option including GWP in the St John’s (Buckhurst Hill) catchment as well, but without success. Sharon has also been helping individual families.

For more about Education

Draft Essex School Organisation Plan 2010 - 2015
This sets out the County’s plans for schools. Note that the link to the draft Plan (top right-hand corner of the page) takes you to a page giving the chapter headings – to get to the text you need to click on one of the icons at the top-left of this page, and then on one of the icons on the next page.

Queries about Education

For general issues concerning Loughton schools or the LEA, contact Councillor Chris Pond for Loughton Central Division (wards: Alderton, Forest, St John's, St Mary's), oversees local education matters, including monitoring the number of school places available.

For other areas, contact Cllr Valerie Metcalf (Cons: Forest and Roding wards) or Cllr John Knapman (Cons: Broadway ward).

WEA Courses

LOUGHTON
Contact: Pat Dale, 020 8281 1536. mrspdale@googlemail.com 
Come to the first session free. 
Art history, literature, wildlife, etc
Courses start in September & January.
GANTS HILL/REDBRIDGE 
Contact: 020 8590 3406 or 020 8599 8846. wea_ilford@btinternet.com 
Come to the first session free. 
Literature, history, art exhibitions, London walks etc.
Courses start in September & January.