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New primary school just outside Crawley nears completion

Last week, Crest Nicholson celebrated a significant construction milestone as the roof of its brand-new Kilnwood Vale Primary School was completed.

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Crest Nicholson partnered with leading education contractor Willmott Dixon to build the school in the Faygate community at Horsham, West Sussex. Due to open ahead of the new school year in September, the state-of-the-art school will provide places for more than 420 new pupils across two forms as well as a nursery class.

The milestone, also known as a ‘topping out’ ceremony, was celebrated by the partners with final works now underway to ensure completion by the Summer. Upon completion, Kilnwood Vale Primary School will be home to more than 2.36 hectares of open space including a football pitch, multi-use game areas and extensive playing fields. The school will also feature a dedicated wildlife area, including a stunning pond and wild flower meadow for students to enjoy learning and leisure activities.

The school is set back from the road, offering easy drop-off access and parking, giving parents in Kilnwood Vale peace of mind that their children’s safety has been carefully planned for. Both the school and associated nursery are designed with Kilnwood Vale’s growing community in mind, with plans set out to expand to three classes per year group as more people move to the area.

School operator GLF Schools, which was founded in 2012 and now looks after more than 30 primary and secondary schools, has played a key role in the design of the school. GLF Schools has worked closely with teachers to incorporate their preferences for classroom layouts to create the best possible learning environment for Kilnwood Vale pupils.

Managing Director of Crest Nicholson Strategic Projects, Andrew Dobson, commented: “We are proud of the progress which has been made so far and thrilled to give pupils a new place to learn this September. We’re delighted to deliver our vision for Kilnwood Vale, following our core garden village principles: considering social, environmental and economic factors. We want to show residents that we’re not just building houses but creating a sustainable and thriving community legacy.

“This year marks the five-year anniversary of when our first residents joined the Kilnwood Vale community. During that time, Kilnwood Vale has grown into one of West Sussex’s fastest growing communities, with over 600 people now calling the development home. We’re looking forward to sharing this key part of our commitment to offer local family’s access to the best amenities.”

Willmott Dixon’s spokesperson for the ceremony Managing Director in South London, South East, Roger Forsdyke, said: “Work on the new school in Kilnwood Vale is progressing well. We are delighted to be working in partnership with Crest Nicholson to deliver this new facility, which will leave a legacy by providing much needed education places to this already thriving community.”  

GLF Schools spokesperson, CEO Jon Chaloner, added: “We are delighted to be opening our third school in West Sussex when Kilnwood Vale Primary School opens in September. Each school has its own distinct character and culture which is respectful of the community it serves, and the Kilnwood Vale community will have these beautiful new buildings within which the school will undoubtedly flourish.

“Kilnwood Vale’s pupils will benefit from an inclusive ethos, excellent teaching and
a broad and balanced curriculum underpinned by strong leadership.”

Contemporary two and three-bedroom homes at Kilnwood Vale are available from £274,950, with many available using the Government’s Help to Buy scheme. For more information, visit the on-site Sales & Marketing Suite which is open on weekdays between 10am and 5pm, from 10am to 7pm on Thursday and between 10.30am and 5.30pm on weekends. Alternatively, call 01293 852501, or visit www.crestnicholson.com/kilnwoodvale.

Education

‘Reckless’ National Education Union attacks West Sussex Council over schools reopening

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The National Education Union has spoken out saying they have been frustrated by the ‘reckless’ approach they say West Sussex County Council has taken towards the safety of its members on the matter of schools re-opening more widely.

Joint NEU West Sussex Branch Secretary Ann Seuret said:

“It is disappointing that the local authority has referred to a ‘phased re-opening’ because schools have been open throughout the lockdown, where our members have been working on the front line, providing a vital service for vulnerable children and those of key-workers whilst they protect us from this awful disease.”

They say that contrary to the views expressed by some politicians in the county, The National Education Union is consulting on a wider re-opening of schools and is using a detailed checklist endorsed by the other education unions, which follows the structure of the government’s own guidance, to do so. They add that every school needs to consult in good time to fulfil its statutory obligations, and many are only at the beginning of that process.

It has now been confirmed to the NEU that many schools in West Sussex will NOT open more widely on June 1st despite the council claiming that they will. This follows widespread concern from heads in West Sussex wanting reassurances from government.

NEU Regional Officer, James Ellis said:

“The National Education Union wants children to return to school as soon as possible, but only when it is safe. Our five tests set out some reasonable criteria by which to measure this, and they have not been met. We still do not know the rate of infection (the R rate) in the county, or whether or not children are less likely than adults to pass on the infection. Schools are not able to keep children two metres apart, and this is acknowledged in the government guidance. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has concluded that there is no evidence that age affects the likelihood of being infected with Covid19, so we cannot understand why children are not required to social distance. Whilst testing has been increased nationally, our members are not confident that the ability yet exists across West Sussex to isolate cases and successfully contact, track, and trace them. This system just isn’t ready yet, and so we believe West Sussex County Council is acting too hastily. This stands in marked contrast to other councils who are taking a more cautious approach to only open more widely when the scientific data shows it is safe to do so. Despite this recklessness many West Sussex schools are sensibly deciding that 1st June is too soon.”

Primary schools in West Sussex which have already confirmed they will not yet open more widely on June 1st include:

  • all schools run by The University of Brighton Academies Trust: Lindfield, Blackthorns, Holmbush, Pound Hill, Desmond Anderson, and it’s secondary: Burgess Hill Academy
  • all schools run by The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT): Broadfield Primary Academy, Hilltop Primary School, Portfield Primary Academy, Seal Primary Academy, Seymour Primary School, Tangmere Primary Academy, The Bewbush Academy, The Mill Primary Academy, The Oaks Primary School,  and it’s secondaries: Chichester High School,  Thomas Bennett Community College and The Academy, Selsey,
  • Southgate Primary School


In addition, Headteachers at Crawley Secondary Schools: Ifield Community College, Holy Trinity School, St Wilfrid’s, Oriel High School Hazelwick and The Gatwick School
– have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement.

In it they said:

“As a group of secondary Headteachers of the schools in Crawley we have unanimously agreed that no students will be in school (other than those for childcare) any earlier than 15th June… We have come to this position in order to act responsibly for the welfare of the school and local community.”

NEU West Sussex Joint Branch Secretary and Health and Safety Officer, Anne Barker said:

“For the National Education Union it is not about an arbitrary date, but uppermost in our considerations is the safety of our members, the children in their care, and their families. The statutory obligations of employers to meaningfully consult on risk assessments is clear.

This means there has to be enough time to explain the issues to our members, time for them to consider and make informed responses, and time for employers to take into account their response before making a final decision.

We are ready to do that on the basis of our five tests and our checklist, but schools must let go of this arbitrary June 1st date. Mr Ellis added, “If schools do push ahead to open more widely on June 1st we will advise members that we do not believe it is safe for them to attend work and that we are not satisfied that the employer has met their obligations under the Health & Safety at Work Act. Any member subjected to a detriment as a consequence of not attending work will be vigorously defended by our union.”

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