Wantage school plan hit as bid for £4m funding gets rejected

Improvements to King Alfred’s Academy (KA) in Wantage have hit a setback after £4million funding was rejected by the Department for Education. 

The school had applied to the Condition Improvement Fund for the funding as part of its scheme to move from three sites to two.

But the DfE confirmed on Tuesday that the school’s bid had been rejected due to a high number of applications for cash nationwide.

Simon Spiers, executive headteacher of Vale Academy Trust which runs King Alfred’s,  said: “We were disappointed of course.

“But we’re confident we can find the money elsewhere.

“The issue is we need to sell East Site to release the money for the science block, but we need the science block before we can sell East Site.”

Mr Spiers said KA was involved in discussion with the Educational Funding Agency and Oxfordshire County Council to find a way of funding the improvements before the site is sold. 

King Alfred’s wants to sell its East Site in Springfield Road for redevelopment and continue to develop its other two sites in  Portway and Challow Road.

The news of the funding setback came as a public consultation was launched on a plan for housing on East Site on the Vale of White Horse District Council’s website.

An outline plan to build 150 homes on the site was submitted as part of the school’s move to sell the site to developers for about £11m. The money would be used to fund redevelopment at the other two sites.

Wantage MP Ed Vaizey, who has publicly supported the school’s plans, said: “I’m working closely with King Alfred’s to ensure that we can get the funding to make this ambitious project work.

“I won’t be giving up. We just have to power through the bureaucracy.”

DfE spokesperson Anna Croall said: “The Condition Improvement Fund was targeted in 2015/16 at the academies and sixth form colleges that needed it most, to tackle poor building condition and health and safety issues.

“Demand for this fund was high and only applications which demonstrated the most acute need were successful.”

King Alfred’s opened a £4m canteen and teaching building on its Portway site last month.
Improvements are due to be completed by 2018.