Plans to extend three Southampton primary schools in a bid to ease a crisis in places for youngsters have taken a step forward.
The city council’s Cabinet has given the go-ahead for a second phase of consultation over the proposals to add hundreds of new classroom places at St John’s, Bevois Town and Bassett Green primary schools. Teachers, parents and residents have already been given their chance to have their say over the £3m plans during a four-week consultation that ended last month.
The council said the responses had been “largely positive”, although concerns were raised about outdoor space being lost at Bevois Town, traffic issues around St John’s, preferences for smaller schools and fears that academic and disciplinary problems could worsen if pupil numbers are increased.
“I think this is very positive particularly given the opportunity to use different buildings at these schools. We’re being as flexible as we can be to meet these demands,” said Councillor Sarah Bogle Cabinet member for children’s services.
Now more consultation is to start later this month into the plans – the third phase of the council’s response to a crisis in primary school places caused by rapidly growing pupil numbers.
Higher birth rates, more people moving to the area and fewer youngsters being taken out of the city have all been cited as reasons for the problems, which have seen schools across the city bursting at the seams.
By 2015, there will be a third more children needing primary school education than there were in 2008.
Already, work has begun to create 3,000 more places at 20 schools around the city.
St John’s Primary and Nursery School will increase its intake to 60 from September 2014. Around £3m of Government funding will be spent on new classrooms, conversions and extensions at the schools, which will ultimately see capacity double at St John’s and Bevois Town.
But the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Councillor Adrian Vinson, argued that nothing appeared to have been done about a similar issue in two schools in his ward, Portswood and Highfield primary schools.
Councillor Bogle responded saying they had to look at projects “realistically”.
“We’re very much hand-to mouth and these are the priorities at the moment.