This September hundreds of children will start school for the first time and many more will make the jump from primary to secondary, writes Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.
As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, not least because we have one of the highest birth rates, we’ve once again faced huge pressure to meet a rising demand for school places.
In fact, as of the national offer days in April and May, we had offered 5,580 children a school place for September - that’s 132 more than last year.
Despite the increase, we were still able to provide the vast majority of children their first place school - 90.4 per cent for primary applications and 85.6 per cent for secondary - with 97 per cent offered one of their three preferred schools.
We’re able to achieve this success because of careful planning by our school admissions team, and of course the investment we have made in schools in recent years - and continue to make - to increase the number of places.
We’ve extended and rebuilt schools across the city and new schools have opened in Cardea and Hampton in recent years so we can continue meeting the needs of our growing population.
Only last week the Government announced it had approved applications for two new schools in Peterborough - Manor Drive Academy at Paston Reserve which we’re progressing with the 4Cs Academy Trust, and a new Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided primary school at Hampton Waters.
Both schools are targeted for opening in 2022, subject to further discussion with the Department for Education.
It was really good news and a credit to those who worked on the applications, when you consider that only 18 per cent of bids for funding were successful, and we had two!
In 2017 the Government also agreed to fund a new primary school at Paston Reserve.
This, along with the secondary school, will cost in the region of £32 million - money we would have to find if our bid had proved unsuccessful.
With demand for school places only going one way, we continue to plan to meet future demand.
Work starts on-site at a new primary school at Hampton Lakes early next month - again funded by the Government. Other projects are due to conclude over the summer, including extensions of Jack Hunt School to include a new classroom block and dining facility, Oakdale Primary in Stanground and Woodston Primary.
Regardless of the significant pressures on our budget, meeting the demand for school places is one pressure that we will always have to meet.
And that’s not just because we have a legal duty to do so, but because the future success of our city is founded on the youngsters of today being offered a high standard of education in buildings that allow them to reach their full potential.
Continuing with the good news this week, the Safer Off the Streets partnership has been nominated for the regional event of the Love Britain and Ireland Awards organised by Premier Christian Radio.
The partnership has been nominated for three categories: Disadvantaged (a project which helps struggling communities), Start-Up project and Social Justice Campaign.
I know we in Peterborough are very proud of all the work the Safer Off the Streets partnership has done to help rough sleepers in the city since it launched in October, so it’s wonderful that this has been recognised on a regional level as well.
Fingers crossed we win next week!
If you follow the council on social media you might have seen that we published a video of a former headteacher Eric Winstone who has completed the Perkins Great Eastern Run 30 times. This is a fantastic achievement and I know there are many other residents out there who have competed multiple times and recorded personal bests.
This year’s race takes place on Sunday, October 13 and there is still lots of time to enter the 13.1 mile race or the 5km Anna’s Hope fun run.
Last year we had the most number of finishers inside 70 minutes out of any UK half- marathon, which proves our claim that it is one of the fastest races in the country, and a good one to beat your personal best.
We’ll be running free training sessions fortnightly on a Wednesday at the Athletics Track in Bishop’s Road, starting on July 10.
Runners can get advice from experienced racers and coaches who will be acting as pacers for the main race in October.
For more information or to sign up visit www.perkinsgreateasternrun.co.uk