Free School boss insists Rokeby schools plan is not being rushed - The Rugby Observer

Free School boss insists Rokeby schools plan is not being rushed

Rugby Editorial 28th Apr, 2016 Updated: 27th Oct, 2016   0

ROKEBY residents fear plans for two new schools and the relocation of an existing one are being rushed by their proposers.

Rugby Free Secondary School (RFSS) has secured government funding for its mooted site on Rokeby Sports Ground, between Fawsley Leys and Long Furlong.

A protest group has questioned whether the old Rokeby Primary School site – abandoned eight years ago – will be ready for 180 Year 7 students as RFSS’s temporary home in time for the start of the new school year in September.

But the school’s proposer said the site will be ready on time.

Speaking on behalf of protest group Sustainable Hillside and Rokeby Education (SHARE), Rokeby borough councillor Bill Lewis said the old Rokeby site in Anderson Avenue needed extensive refurbishment to ensure facilities such as toilets suited secondary age pupils rather than infants, and to ‘put right eight years of neglect’ including water damage to the assembly hall’s ceiling and floor.

The assembly hall at the former Rokeby Primary site as it stands today.

He said: “?It seems very unlikely that the school can be magically repaired, refurbished and redesigned between now and September.

“There have always been problems with the drains and there appears to be a considerable amount of asbestos contained at various locations in the 50s-built building.”

SHARE spokeswoman Abbie Robson said the group was ‘speechless’ that funding had been awarded without seeing any evidence of a public consultation.

She said: “The (old Rokeby) school buildings were described as being ‘unsuitable for education purposes’ when their possible use was suggested in connection with a proposal to build new housing on Ashlawn Road.

“No plans have yet been submitted for the new build, 1200-place secondary school proposed for Rokeby Playing Field. The Education Funding Agency are, at present, unable to give dates for any consultation or planning application required before building can go ahead.”

But RFSS lead proposer Tom Legge said there was a program in place to ensure the temporary site – which is currently occupied by 11 live-in property guardians – would be ready to accept pupils from September.

He said: “While the building needs a lot of work, the benefit we have is that it was previously a school building.”

He added there would be a planning application and a public consultation – but these related to the permanent site and were not directly connected to the temporary site opening in September.

“There are a number of other tasks to complete, most notably a Readiness to Open Meeting (ROM) with the Department for Education, which we expect to take place before the end of May,” he added.

If the plan is approved, the first year of RFSS students will move to the former infant school site in September. The current, neighbouring Rokeby Primary School will be adapted to create the new Special Free School, due to open in 2017.

Rokeby Primary School will relocate to new buildings on the council-owned sports ground where it can be expanded to two classes per year. The permanent new site for RFSS will then be developed alongside the primary school.

Parents can apply for a Year 7 place at RFSS at

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