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Expansion plans for primary schools in Southampton
12:18pm Friday 21st September 2012 in News
THREE more Southampton primary schools will be expanded to cope with a spaces crisis.
The schools – St John’s, Bevois Town and Bassett Green – will be extended through a council scheme to create hundreds more classroom places.
The shortage has been caused by rising birth rates, more people moving to the area and fewer taking their youngsters out of the city to be educated.
Each of the three schools will increase their admission by 30 places under proposals that will now go out to consultation.
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.
At Bassett Green, where six new classrooms could be built on existing playground space, the school has already added another class to its reception year intake this month as a temporary measure to help ease the crisis.
Head teacher Liz Filer said: “We don’t want children not to be in school on day one of Year R.
“This part of the city is under huge pressure in terms of places, and we’re all open to whatever ideas we can to make sure there is enough space.”
As previously reported in the Daily Echo, 70 Southampton children were set to start the academic year without a school place, based on figures provided at the end of the summer term.
But that figure has now risen to 90, a change caused largely by people moving to the city and applying for school places after the original deadline – although that figure still represents a drop in numbers from this time last year, when 107 youngsters were without school places.
A further 200 youngsters have begun their education at a school their parents hadn’t chosen, because of a shortage of space.
City education boss Cllr Sarah Bogle, pictured left, said the council is already facing the prospect of a third more primary places in 2015 than it did in 2008.
The authority is in the middle of a plan to expand 20 schools around the city, following on from moves to extend Springwell special school.
She said there were still children without a place at school but when pressed by other members to provide a date she said they would all be found places by the end of the month.
Cllr Bogle, said: “We’ve had huge demand in the city, particularly in the city centre, and that’s put huge pressure on funding, but we have secured some extra funding.
“We’re looking at a number of different ways of dealing with further expansion, but it’s a work in progress.”
Cllr Bogle added that space on sites was an issue and the council would be open to a number of ideas in order to ease the crisis in future years.
He said: “This is two years running where we’ve struggled to find children places and we need to get it right.”