Parents told new school not ready to open up

The start of building work on Longford Park estate in 2013.
The start of building work on Longford Park estate in 2013.

Anxious parents whose children were due to start at Longford Park Primary School in September have been told the school will not be ready in time.

In a letter to parents, Gavin Wardley, admissions co-ordinator at Oxfordshire County Council said the opening of the school, which is part of a 600-home housing development, had been delayed until September next year, due to there being fewer primary school children living on the development than expected.

The letter also said the school’s building had been delayed by ‘exceptionally wet winter weather’.

In the letter, he writes: “I am writing to inform you the opening of Longford Park Primary School has been postponed until September 2017. GLF Schools, as sponsors, and Oxfordshire County Council have taken this decision jointly after consultation with the Department for Education.”

He added if the school opened this September, there would not be ‘enough children to be viable’ and families who were due to send their children there would be given their second or third preference school, where spaces were available.

Parent Liane Gray said it was a ‘very shoddy state of affairs’.

“After going through the admission process, which is an emotionally difficult process whereby you try to assess the best choice for your precious child, to be told that due to what seems like a lot of excuses the school won’t be opening after all, but feel free to move your child there in another year, simply doesn’t do anything to make up for this debacle,” she said.

She added the situation would put those children at a disadvantage in the schools’ selection process and they would have to ‘make do’ with wherever they could be accommodated, which might not be in the local area.

A spokesperson for GLF Schools said: “We are disappointed that Longford Park has been delayed as there has already been considerable investment in preparing for the opening, including the appointment of an Executive Headteacher and Deputy to lead both Longford Park and William Morris Primary School.

“However, we have to consider the best interests of the children given the delays to the building and access routes. We will keep working with Oxfordshire County Council to ensure that the school is ready for a September 2017 opening and we would encourage parents to sign up to our website to keep up to date with news and progress reports.”

Bodicote Parish Council chairman Ron Glynn said: “I had my doubts when they said it would be finished by September.”

He added the Longford Park development had been ‘badly planned’.