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Debate continues for schools expansion plan

PUBLISHED: 15:00 28 March 2015

Havering Council has invited us to visit Crowlands Primary School - an already expanded school - to see the benefits of larger schools.

Havering Council has invited us to visit Crowlands Primary School - an already expanded school - to see the benefits of larger schools.

Archant

Claims by a teaching union that expansions are turning schools into “factories” have been rejected by education chiefs who say big doesn’t have to mean bad.

Havering NUT secretary Ray Waxler’s comments have been challenged by the headteacher of Crowlands Primary, Romford, who believes that expanding to accept an extra 105 pupils has had a positive effect on her school.

Schools will consult on a draft proposal to increase school places in the borough being put together by Havering Council.

More places are required as a result of an increasing birth rate and migration into the borough and government policy prevents the authority from building schools, leaving expansion as the only option. But the impact of this has come under fire.

Mr Waxler said: “Schools are turning into factories, pushing children through the system, making sure they receive the best grades.

“Their time at school is also about them growing as people and teachers cannot possibly get to know pupils when there are so many of them each asking for their attention.”

It is estimated more than 3,000 primary and 5,000 secondary school places will be needed in the next five years.

Crowlands Primary School became a three form entry in 2013.

Hayley McClenaghan, headteacher, said: “We wanted to expand because it was a mixed age group school so pupils from different grade levels were in the same classes and it wasn’t ideal.

“The expansion has enabled us to build a bigger lunch room and we have converted the library and IT suite into additional classrooms, but we’ve got laptops so the children are still able to have their lessons – we are also converting an old bus into a library which will be a lot of fun. Parents were initially concerned but have heard very little since expanding – everything has gone so smoothly and we do think we are a success story.”

Since 2012, 26 primary schools have been expanded, adding more than 1,100 pupils to classrooms throughout the borough, predominantly for reception age children.

Cllr Meg Davis, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “Bigger schools do not automatically mean there will be a negative impact on learning.

“We’ve been experiencing pressure on places for several years now, and as the projections show, that isn’t going to change for the foreseeable future. We will continue to provide the best possible education for our local children, while also ensuring that everyone who needs a school place has one.”


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