Frequently Asked Questions

Within our Trust we already have Church of England schools and so have first-hand experience of how education provided in CofE schools is fully inclusive (starting with admissions, which you will see have no faith-based criteria). These schools share universal British values, such as mutual respect and tolerance. The curriculum in a CofE school is as broad and enriching as a community school with the RE curriculum ensuring that children learn about all religions as set out in the locally agreed syllabus. A CofE school is established to serve the community in which it is situated and is fully inclusive, welcoming children and families of all faiths and none.

In maintained schools the ‘control’ of a Church of England School is expressed as a Majority (Voluntary Aided) or Minority (Voluntary Controlled) school. The difference is the extent to which the Governors of the school own their own land and employ the staff, and how many of the Governors are appointed by the Diocese. As a Free School, Windrush CofE will be modelled on a Voluntary Controlled School legal arrangement. All Local Governors at Windrush CofE will be appointed by RLT Trustees and only a minority (25%) will initially have been nominated by the Diocese. All Governors will need to commit to RLT’s objectives. The school estate will be owned by the county council and leased to the Trust for 125 years. The school will be subject to a Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS). Details of this inspection are available here.

Our nursery provision, for children aged two to four, is based on the free entitlement provided by the Government. So, if you qualify for free provision from two, you can apply, otherwise (subject to availability) your child can start with the nursery the term after their third birthday. Children aged three and four are provided with 15 hours of early education per week. Some children qualify for 30 hours.
To see what you qualify for please see the Government website: www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
The only cost associated with a child taking up their 30-hour free entitlement is a fee to cover the lunchtime supervision, which is £5 per day (plus a charge for lunch if your child is not bringing a packed lunch). You are able to pick your child up for lunch and bring them back for the afternoon session.
Depending upon the demand for the provision, if your child is over the age of three and you want to purchase additional hours, the cost of a three-hour session is £15, plus the cost of lunch and lunchtime supervision, which is £5. This price is under regular review but is aligned to the funding that is provided by the local authority.

Oxfordshire County Council is responsible for ensuring there are sufficient school places across the county. They have commissioned our new school (located in Windrush Place) to meet the demand of four new housing developments in the town, eventually adding more than 1500 new homes to Witney. The Council has previously stated that there is not sufficient capacity in the town to accommodate all the pupils from these new housing developments, and the developers (through their section 106 agreement) have committed to invest in Witney by delivering a new primary school to be ready in line with a pre-determined timeline. This means the school is on track to open in September 2021, subject to the agreement of the Secretary of State for Education.

As a Church of England School, it is likely that the school will attract some pupils from beyond Windrush Place and Colwell Green, as parents exercise parental choice. However, this is balanced with the catchment area prioritising residents within the development and not prioritising Church attendance or baptised children. The other significant developments (Burford Road and Springfield Oval) are in the catchment area of existing schools in Witney.

Windrush Church of England Primary School is planned to grow from the bottom up (a new Reception class every year) to reduce pupil movement and avoid destabilising other local schools.

Yes! As a Church of England School we welcome children of all faiths and none. Our admissions arrangements do not favour church attendance or religious affiliation. Our Christian ethos will be manifested in our daily acts of worship (as required in all schools by the 1988 Education Reform Act), however, parents have the legal right to withdraw their children from the daily act of worship either partially or wholly. Teachers also have the right to withdraw from leading or taking part in worship.

The county council has an option on land at Windrush Place to enable it to build a new secondary education facility, if it proves necessary. They have not yet made a final decision on whether this will be needed, or whether sufficient capacity can be provided at the existing schools in the area. There is unlikely to be a final decision before 2023. If the land set aside for secondary education is not needed for this purpose, then the original planning application proposed that part of the land would be developed for residential use, with the remainder providing sports facilities.

Church of England schools were originally founded way back in 1811 when Joshua Watson, a wine merchant, founded the “National Society for the Promotion of Education for the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church” with the aim of establishing a school in every community. This was intended to enable all children to receive an education – no longer just the children of the wealthy – in recognition that education would help children to flourish. In modern Britain, Church of England schools remain rooted in the original and fundamental principle of service to all children, all communities and all of society. Church of England schools strive to embody Christian vision driven by clear Christian values and are welcoming to children of all faiths or none.

River Learning Trust was approached by the Diocese of Oxford’s Board of Education to collaborate to open a new school in Witney. The Church of England schools in the town are historically popular and oversubscribed and with all the additional houses in the town (already over 1,500 new homes built or with permission to build, plus new housing developments out to consultation) there was a concern that parents in the new houses, living further away, would be limited in their choice as they would not be able to access places in these established Church of England schools.

The school will open with the Nursery and Reception cohorts only. In future years the only cohorts (groups) of children we will be accepting will be Nursery and Reception pupils. As part of our opening consultation the school asked for applications/expressions of interest for places in year groups other than Reception to gauge the interest from the community. However, there was insufficient interest to open any other year groups, and therefore Oxfordshire County Council was not asked to open any other classes.

Free schools have the freedom to set their own term dates. However, it is not envisaged that the term dates at Windrush will be different to other local schools. Inset days, when staff training takes place, may not be the same as other schools in the town, but inset days already differ from school to school. You can see our planned term date here.

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