Wokingham.Today

Bracknell MP joins call for sixth form at Bohunt

Bohunt School
Bohunt School in Arborfield wants to expand Picture: Phil Creighton

ONE OF the borough’s MPs has declared his support for a sixth form at Bohunt School.

James Sunderland, whose constituency includes Crowthorne, Finchampstead and Wokingham Without, is supporting the school in its ambitions to provide post-16 education.

The Arborfield school currently serves children in villages in the south of the borough.

It opened in September 2016 to Year 7 pupils, who are now in Year 11 and looking at their next step.

With no sixth form in the south of the borough, students in this area tend to go to a sixth form in Finchampstead, or close to Wokingham town centre.

Mr Sunderland told Wokingham.Today he believes the issue is simple.

“Demand for places is exceptionally high,” he said.

“My loyalty is to my constituents, and not a single person here thinks it’s a bad idea. This is a new, exceptional school. It was made clear when it was built the intention was to have a sixth form bolted on.

“But for reasons I don’t understand, Wokingham Borough Council does not seem to support it.”

The MP said many of his constituents are faced with long car drives to and from sixth form each day, with some travelling to Reading or further.

“They should be getting sixth form provision on their doorstep,” he said. “My wish is that Wokingham Borough Council starts focusing on what can be achieved at Bohunt, rather than what can’t. The cost is a drop in the ocean”

He added: “I would be delighted to take a business case to the Department of Education.”

Last week, Cllr Charles Margetts, Conservative councillor for Finchampstead North posted a video on Twitter declaring his support for a sixth form at Bohunt.

In the video, he said: “Finchampstead residents should not have to have their children faced with a choice of going to Farnborough or the far side of Wokingham for sixth form school.

“Bohunt has put together a coherent and sensible offer. It’s prepared to pay 75% of the cost itself. All it’s asking is of Wokingham Borough Council for an investment to provide a decent sixth form facility for the south of the borough.

“We’re calling on Wokingham Borough Council to do that.”

The video also featured his wife, and new Conservative councillor for Finchampstead South, Cllr Rebecca Margetts, and Mr Sunderland.

Cllr Charles Margetts told Wokingham.Today he is calling on people to work together on this project.

“There was a constructive conversation last week with the education executive and Bohunt School,” he said.

“I want to encourage colleagues to work towards providing better sixth form provision in the south of the borough.”

Cllr Margetts said this September, more than 200 students will leave the school. Only 15 applied to secondary school sixth forms in the borough, and seven were not offered places, as their chosen school was full.

Cllr Margetts said while there are some spaces at Emmbrook and The Forest, this means students would have to travel to “the other side of Wokingham”.

Cllr John Halsall, leader of the borough council said he recognises the need to expand post-16 education in the next few years.

“The need for places is likely to be most felt within the southern areas of the borough and so we will be actively working with schools on the potential for developing sixth form provision in the local area,” he said.

He said the council will ensure Bohunt are “key contributors” to the consultation in the Autumn.

“We are keen to develop provision that serves the needs of all young people as they move on from their secondary school experience into their post-16 learning and will be commencing a Post 16 Strategy Consultation in the new academic year,” he said.

In the spring, parents of students at the school launched a second petition calling for a sixth form to be built.

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