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Opening of new school delayed by planning hold-ups

PUBLISHED: 13:09 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 13:09 21 June 2019

Artist's impression of the new Wymondham College Prep School. The Sapientia Education Trust, which is sponsoring the school, has had to delay the opening of its boarding provision. Picture: LSI/Morgan Sindall

Artist's impression of the new Wymondham College Prep School. The Sapientia Education Trust, which is sponsoring the school, has had to delay the opening of its boarding provision. Picture: LSI/Morgan Sindall

LSI/Morgan Sindall

Children hoping to start boarding at a new Norfolk school in September have been left disappointed by project delays.

Artist's impression of the new Wymondham College Prep School. The Sapientia Education Trust, which is sponsoring the school, has had to delay the opening of its boarding provision. Picture: LSI/Morgan SindallArtist's impression of the new Wymondham College Prep School. The Sapientia Education Trust, which is sponsoring the school, has had to delay the opening of its boarding provision. Picture: LSI/Morgan Sindall

Initial plans for Wymondham College Prep School said it would start taking children from September 2020, including 32 boarders in years five and six.

The school, set to be built on the Wymondham College site, will be one of only two state boarding schools for primary age children in the country.

But its sponsor Sapientia Education Trust has run into snags in the planning process and now anticipates it will only be able to open to reception age day pupils next autumn - with the boarding house for older pupils not expected to open until 2021.

Concerns have also been raised about its proposed location, with claims that the approach to Wymondham College off Golf Links Road is unsafe for children to walk along and would not be able to cope with the extra traffic.

A full planning application with associated travel plans is due to be submitted in the coming weeks.

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In a letter to parents and guardians Jonathan Taylor, chief executive of Sapientia Education Trust, said the project had been delayed by "land survey issues", putting the building programme behind schedule.

He said: "Our boarding provision will need to be delayed until 2021, as we are not prepared to open a boarding house that is not fully completed. We still intend to open the school in 2020 as planned but only with a reception age cohort."

Jonathan Taylor, chief executive of the Sapientia Education Trust. Picture: Ncik DunmurJonathan Taylor, chief executive of the Sapientia Education Trust. Picture: Ncik Dunmur

In a statement, Mr Taylor said building projects "inevitably come with positives and concerns" and that the trust was working with the Department for Education (DfE), contractors and Norfolk County Council on its proposals.

He added that locating the prep school on the college site would give pupils access to its wealth of facilities.

Wymondham College Prep School was approved by the DfE in March 2017 in wave 12 of the free school applications process.

Norwich-based LSI Architects and Morgan Sindall have been appointed to design and build the school.

Sapientia Education Trust has published the prep school's admissions policy and a headteacher has already been appointed to start in April 2020, but Mr Taylor said this early appointment was a requirement for approved free schools.

Norfolk County Council's schools local growth and investment plan said Wymondham needed two new primary schools to cope with increasing demand for places. Alongside the prep school, a second has been proposed in Silfield.

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