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Rainham school’s expansion a ‘rash decision to meet targets’

PUBLISHED: 17:00 03 July 2014 | UPDATED: 17:14 03 July 2014

Parents have been granted a reprieve on a school expansion that they say will reduce facilities and potentially endanger children.

Plans to almost double the size of Parsonage Farm Primary School, in Rainham, have been sent back to Havering Council’s cabinet to be reconsidered after they were called in by two opposition councillors.

At a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee last week, parents argued the plans were unsuitable.

Claire Smith, who has two children at the school, said: “We feel that this expansion is a rash decision to meet targets that has not considered the full impact on the pupils and the local area.”

During a consultation period 66 objections were received. Concerns raised include road safety, the space and facilities at the school and the effect of rapid expansion on its ethos.

Parents’ concerns were reiterated by Independent Residents’ Group member Cllr David Durant. He called on the council to consider alternatives to the creation of a “super-size” primary.

The planned expansion, which would see the school increase its 486 places to 840 from September 2015, is part of a borough-wide policy to increase capacity for primary-age pupils.

Decisions about three of the nine schools planned for expansion have been referred back to the council – Parsonage Farm, Scotts, in Hornchurch, and The RJ Mitchell Primary School, also in Hornchurch.

Cllr Meg Davis, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “We believe our primary school expansion plans are robust and were put in place to help us ensure we can provide enough school places for local children, where they are most needed.

“But, following the decision of the overview and scrutiny committee regarding expansions at three schools, the plans will be going back to the cabinet for further consideration.”

Those campaigning to have the decision reconsidered have said they will now approach councillors and MPs in a bid to reiterate their concerns.

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