Two important meetings have moved plans along enormously towards allowing The Swanage School to be built on the lower part of the Swanage Middle School field. This very large site would be shared with an entirely separate St Mark's CE primary school on the site of the Middle School buildings, the plans for which remain unaffected.
Alongside our Education Funding Agency (EFA) advisors, we met on Monday 15 October with the commercial director of Harrow House and reached financial agreement (subject to contract) for The Swanage School to spend its first term in the amazing facilities that Harrow House have offered to us. We will now start detailed operational planning with the Harrow House team and we hope to hold an Open Evening there in about 6 weeks' time so that parents and future students alike can see where we will be.
At County Hall in Dorchester on Tuesday 16 October the DCC Children's Services Overview Committee voted to amend Education Officers' draft recommendations and instead support an early construction start date for The Swanage School, subject to consultation with the Governing Body of Swanage Middle School and other interested parties (including the Schools Adjudicator, to be certain that there are no knock-on issues).
An early construction start is important to enable us to complete the whole school building by December 2013, in time for students to come on-site in January 2014. This will avoid the extended multi-phase building programme that's inevitable when building work goes on alongside existing school operations (as is already underway at Purbeck School and many of the current First-to-Primary school conversions).
Officers also updated Councillors on the continuing discussions about sports pitches and confirmed they are "very nearly there" in finalising a layout with the EFA that gives both schools their own permanent pitches.
These two meetings have made solid progress on all three outstanding points: temporary accommodation for Sept 2013, an early construction start on the new-build, and a fair allocation of sports pitches between St Mark’s and The Swanage School.
We are therefore delighted to confirm that the EFA is pressing the button on the architectural work needed to adapt our original building design for the new site.
The plan is to resubmit our planning application for The Swanage School to Purbeck District Council at the end of November so that it comes before the Planning Board in January for approval.
Then we hope it will be a case of "All systems, Go"!
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