Tarvin residents will soon see a significant visible change to our Primary School. The Sandstone Trust, which is the Multi Academy Trust that provides management of the school grounds and budgets along with Eaton Primary School and Tarporley High School, secured a grant to replace the broken fencing around the school. The fencing is in poor repair and this work is long overdue – the current fencing may well be over 50 years old.
You may be aware, that The Trust recently applied for planning permission for a 2m high fence to go at the front and rear of the school and also along the boundary between the school and its two closest neighbours on Heath Drive. The existing fencing between the Tarvin Primary and other properties was to be repaired or replaced. One resident told Tarvin Online “We knew nothing about the fencing until we received a letter from the council informing us of planning permission. We had no idea what was meant by ‘repaired or replaced’. The trust did not inform or consult the School's neighbours in advance of the planning application.”
The Sandstone Trust have recently found that planning permission for the fencing is actually not required and they will now be replacing all of the fencing around the entire school with a 2m high rigid green wire fence on all of it’s boundaries. The Department for Education site security guidance for school fencing states 2m high fencing for existing schools. If the trust meets the guidelines, it allows the school to join the government’s Risk Protection Arrangement rather than having to take out costly commercial insurance which would inevitably divert funds away from children’s education or other improvements the school. (Incidentally, 2.4M fencing is specified for new schools).
The school must follow the D of E guidance if they want to join the Risk Protection Arrangement and are unable to request the height of the fencing to be reduced in any of the sections . Andrew Davies told Tarvin Online “It is important for schools to have adequate fencing to Safeguard the children and ensure that no one can get onto the school property without the knowledge of the school. Improved fencing will also reduce the incidence of intruders entering the school property when the school is closed.” He added: “We often have to remove alcohol debris and drug paraphernalia after a weekend and have suffered a number of incidents of vandalism to school property. The new fence will significantly reduce this. It is also important to have fencing that is safe and in a good state of repair. When we were a Local Authority School, we were unable to access support for the fencing repairs and there was no way we could have afforded a project of this size from the main school budget. It is great news for the school that, as an Academy, the Trust have been able to secure this significant funding.“
Several Tarvin residents raised objections to the original plans but, as planning permission is not required, there is no requirement for the Trust to respond to the objections. Nevertheless, Mr Davies has met with some neighbours and agreed that unfortunately, the height of the fence would change the aspect of the school from some homes and gardens. Mr Davies has also had conversations with members of both the Parish Council and the Woodland Trust.
Residents were not made aware that the planning permission was no longer required, nor that their fences would not be repaired and a 2m fence would be erected on their boundary with the school. Residents of Broom Crescent received a letter from the school on the evening of Friday 11th Nov that installation of the fence was to commence on Monday 15th. On being contacted by one of the Broom Crescent households, Mr Davies came out on Sunday to talk with some of the Broom Crescent residents about their concerns. Residents on the Heath Close side have now also been contacted with the same offer.
This has been an understandably divisive issue. While there are a number of residents who may object to the new fence as it is so high and may reduce the welcoming aspect of the school as well as spoiling the aspect from some of our homes and gardens there is no doubt that it needed replacing, there is clear guidance that the trust needed to adhere to and it will be smarter than the current fence, safer for the children and will significantly reduce the number of intruders onto the school grounds.
Mr Davies has also confirmed that once the fence has been erected, the pre-school gate will be fitted with an intercom and camera to allow drop offs and collections by known parents and carers. The School’s access to Grogan’s Walk will also be maintained – again with a new gate. The Trust are also arranging for the school defibrillator to be moved to the outside of the new fence, so it remains accessible to the village as it is now.