Burnham needs a secondary school

Burnham and the surrounding area has a population of over 20,000 and NO secondary school for the majority of children that haven’t passed the Buckinghamshire 11 plus exam.

Benefits of a local school

A local school has many other advantages

  • Joining in after school activities
  • After school tuition for GCSEs
  • Sharing village events and clubs with school friends
  • Walking or cycling to school
  • Saving an hour each way on bus or rail journeys
  • Saving £800 pa on travel costs

Current situation

There are school buildings at the Opendale site in Burnham, with a relatively new sports hall and all-weather pitches. Those extra facilities were funded by a local charity and the community. Buckinghamshire Council will not provide the necessary management to enable 40 odd local groups to continue using and paying for the facilities. The site is only used as a pickup point for coaches to transfer the children to another school 6 miles away in Bourne End.

The nearest non-selective school is five and a half miles away in Stoke Poges. It is Sikh-ethos and has just been put in special measures due to safeguarding concerns. It is being investigated fro financial mismanagement. Most pupils at Khalsa school are bused in from Slough and Ealing to the converted office block.

History

The Burnham school was closed in 2019 at the request of E-Act, the academy group that had been running the school for 7 years. They had closed sixth form. The reputation was poor. School attendance had dropped to about 20 a year and the school was no longer viable.  

After the school commissioner made the recommendation to close (due to the low demand and failures by the academy group), the council officials say that the school cannot be re-opened in its current form.

The current proposal is to gradually open a through school from age 3 to 18. It would be supported by the academy group that runs Burnham Grammar school and Dorney school, and the Lent Rise single school academy group. Lent Rise (and all the other local primary schools) are full with 30 children in every class. Previously an extra class has been operated for budge years.

Demand for places

The council officials keep under-reporting the demand for secondary school places. In 2019, they said the demand was less than 20 per year (based on the fact that no parent wants their child to go to a failing school). In 2020, reported demand has been up to 150 a year based on some unbelievable birth statistics (half the sustainable population rate!).

A population of 20,000 means that there should be about 260 children in each year group; cream off the top 25% for grammar school and that’s 180 a year for upper school in the immediate area.

Alternatively, consider the primary school pupils in the feeder schools (St Peter’s, Taplow, Dorney, Lent Rise). That’s 7 classes, 210 children within the Bucks area. Priory school and Lady of Peace in Slough take our surplus primary pupils, and the Opendale site would be the closest secondary school for them as well.

Farnham Common has infant and junior schools whose pupils need secondary school places. There is now no public buses going directly to Beaconsfield. Children are walking through Beaconsfield, over the rugby pitches at night to catch a bus at the motorway services. Parents are choosing Slough schools which can be reached by public transport.

Comprehensive schools

Buckinghamshire is one of only 2 areas in the country to have a wholly selective education system. Children sit an exam unless the parent explicitly excludes their child. Only children that pass can choose a grammar school. Everyone else goes to a non-selective school, or a comprehensive school across the county border.

Many parents prefer the comprehensive schools offered outside Buckinghamshire. The government statistics ignore the selective school system in Buckinghamshire which creams off the brightest and wealthiest children. These downgrades the performance of our non-selective school even when they are performing well for their pupils.

Council responsibility

The local council has a responsibility for providing adequate school places for local children. For decades, Buckinghamshire has been dependent on other authorities in Maidenhead and Slough to provide places for our children. Their local plans are to develop many more houses which will fill their existing and planned school places.

The council owns the Opendale site which is deteriorating.

Conclusion

Burnham needs a secondary school. Local people of all parties and none are fighting to ensure that Burnham is not neglected in this matter.

Please write to Joy Morrisey MP joy.morrissey.mp@parliament.uk, local councillors and Burnham Parish council https://burnhamparish.gov.uk/contact-us with your views.

Or visit the Facebook group Burnham needs a secondary school