Parents and non-parents alike are going to be given the chance to help shape the future of education in Hillingdon. Everyone living in the borough will soon be receiving a consultation document from Hillingdon Council explaining how schools may look once their share of £150 million extra funding is spent. Here reporter BARBARA FISHER examines the possible outcomes of the plan to build schools for the 21st Century.
PARENTS, schools and the wider community are being asked for their views on an ambitious plan to update and improve Hillingdon's schools.
A document should be delivered to every resident this week to detail how secondary schools, at this stage in the south of the borough, may be revamped in a £150million Government scheme, labelled the most ambitious project anywhere in the world.
The money for the programme, called Building Schools for the 21st Century, will allow maintenance to be carried out, improvements made, and in some cases brand new schools built.
However, some ideas could prove controversial, such as discarding single-sex education as it currently stands, resulting in Abbotsfield
School for boys and Swakeleys School for girls, both in Clifton Gardens, Hillingdon, becoming coeducational at least for pupils from age 14.
Students from the two schools already study lessons together in a combined sixth form.
Another proposal, described in the document as 'opportunities for colocation', would see nearby Highfield Primary School in Charville Lane West, Hillingdon, moved from its present site to share a site with Swakeleys and Abbotsfield, but in its own new building.
Children could also experience all-through education from three to 19 years of age in one school at Rosedale College in Wood End Green Road, Hayes, if a new school is built there.
This would not replace an existing school but would meet the demand for new places in the area.
Though some schools have falling roles, such as Mellow Lane in Hewens Road, Hayes, no schools are to be considered for closure in the proposals.
Nothing will be finalised until forms have been returned to Hillingdon Council by February 23. All residents - not just those with school age children - are invited to give their views, as the plans will include new facilites for community use.
The Building Schools programme was launched by the Government in 2004 and Hillingdon is in the sixth phase.
Half the money for the programme has been allocated as a Government grant; the other £75million will be funded by the council.
All schools, including those not being rebuilt or remodelled, will see improvements in technology, while sports facilities and adult education services will also benefit from the funding injection. The council hopes to include the borough's northern schools as soon as possible.
Chris Spencer, Hillingdon Council's director for Education and Children's Services, said: "We are extremely excited about the BS21 programme. With high quality, welcoming and well-designed schools, we are confident that the result will raise standards, attainment and success across our schools."
**For more information contact www.hillingdon.gov.uk/schools