We set out below what the Waverley Local Plan infrastructure update document, dated September 2014 and the draft Farnham Neighbourhood Plan dated October 2014 say about education.
The Society’s concern is that evidence from the 2011 census shows that the increase from the previous census in 2001, in the number of school age children in Farnham (13.9%) significantly exceeded the overall population level increase (6.5%) and the increase in housing (5.4%).
If the Local Plan results in a significant increase in the levels of housebuilding above the previous average levels it will become increasingly difficult to meet the demand for school places in Farnham.
Waverley local Plan
Awaiting response to April 2014 consultation. The 2012 IDP (Infant Development program) stated that where additional Early Years places are required in an area, additional infrastructure will be required. SCC Early Years Service will identify a suitable location for this infrastructure and invite bids from prospective providers to run these new settings.
SCC consider that the likely scale of additional demand for primary and secondary school places will be an issue for the Local Plan in terms of ensuring that school places are provided to meet additional need created as a direct result of new development. The need for more school places in certain areas of the borough has been identified and the options for expansion or additional provision will need to be reviewed to ensure that the impact of the Local Plan is taken into account.
Information suggests there is sufficient capacity to meet current needs. The difficulty of accessing mainstream provision from the more rural areas prevents some young people, particularly those with other barriers such as special education needs and disabilities, from participating. The introduction of a new online learning programme for post-16 learners from September 2014 should help to address this.
Farnham Neighbourhood Plan
One of the reasons people move into the town is to access good schools. Farnham has several good schools, which are heavily over-subscribed, and South Farnham School remains the best state primary school in the country, according to OFSTED.
There is a shortage of places at both primary and secondary level which clearly puts pressure on school places for the current and predicted populations. A number of children are forced to make long journeys to access school places at all levels. All primary schools further. Surrey County Council expects to be able to meet demand through increasing school places on existing sites but this needs to be tested and shown to be deliverable specifically in relation to Farnham’s potential housing growth.There is a thriving sixth form college and Farnham is home to the University for the Creative Arts.