The majority of state schools are maintained schools and their operation is overseen – or ‘maintained’ – by the local authority. So it is the local authority who are responsible for the admissions arrangements.
For Exwick Heights Primary School, the basic catchment area is Exwick and some other nearby areas.
The proposed Steiner Exeter Academy is, confusingly NOT an academy but a free school, and as such is free from local authority control. They will held accountable through a ‘funding agreement’- a contract with the Government.
Thus, SAE acts its own Admission Authority, acting through the Admissions Committee of the governing body, consisting of at least three members of the governing body. Therefore there is much bigger catchment area.
Cllr Ollie Pearson’s reflected this concern in comments in the press regarding the proposed SAE:
He said “I have seen figures which state that 40 per cent attending the school are not going to come from central Exeter so the school is not really for local people but it is going to have a big impact on them.” [“Steiner school plans discussed at site meeting” , E&E, 02 July 2013].
Supporters of SAE have reacted with alarm at this this statement – and I have received correspondence questioning the accuracy of this figure.
It needs pointing out this figure comes from the paperwork submitted by SAE to support this planning application [Steiner Academy Exeter – Temporary Site Transport Statement prepared by RPS Planning & Development]:
4.4.5 The high proportion of car users in both groups is largely a result of the geographical distribution of students with 74% of students attending the temporary site predicted to live outside of walking distance. This prediction has been continued for the 2014 intake.
There are trying to mitigate traffic chaos in the planning application. Some of these revolve around cycling provision – but already SAE are ignoring their own data in the Transport Strategy and the prediction in the School Travel Plan. I’m wondering why the submission allow for cycling parking facilites for UP TO 20, even though 27 are predicted to use bikes.
And I’m amazed that Devon County County didn’t try and raise some S106 monies to address speeding and put in place some traffic calming.
So the major concern to be aired at the Planning Committee meeting to be held on 08 July 2013 will be traffic management which is a legitimate material consideration in determining a planning application.
I hope at that meeting SAE will address some of these concerns by coming forward with a more suitable Travel Plan that addresses these traffic management concerns.
But of course, a Travel Plan is only as effective as a plan if the suggestions are actually implemented and made to work.