Branfil Primary School, Upminster, expansion all set to go ahead

The expansion of an Upminster primary school will go ahead in time for September 2013, after it received final approval from the council’s children and learning overview and scrutiny committee.

Following the cabinet’s sign-off of the plans for the expansion and refurbishment of Branfil Primary School, on Cedar Avenue, the plans were called-in to the committee last week.

Branfil head Andy Kelly has welcomed the news.

“We are delighted that this project has been given the go-ahead,” he said. “Our infant school building is badly in need of repair so it’s great news that we will be benefiting from a new, modern school building with better facilities for our pupils.

“It is great that this expansion will also allow the school to take an additional reception class in the next academic year. This will allow us to welcome more local children at a time when primary school places are especially stretched. The pupils and staff are all over the moon and we now can’t wait for work to get underway.”

Speaking to the Recorder last week, Mr Kelly said the impact of the additional pupils on traffic in the surrounding area would be minimised.

“We have a school travel plan in place,” he said. “One thing we are looking at is a ‘walking bus’.

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“We are encouraging parents who do need to drive to park elsewhere – we’re calling it ‘park and stride’.

“Down the back of the school we’ve got a small area which can be used for parking.

“Parents may prefer to park there and walk a couple of hundred yards to the school.”

A “walking bus” is a scheme by which children walk to school in a group that is marshalled by adults. There can be pick-up and drop-off points, much like a real bus.

Work will begin later this month when the school breaks up for half-term.

A new two-storey building will be constructed at the back of the junior school to replace the existing infant school building, which will be demolished. The site of the old infant school will then be turned into a “multi-use outdoor area”, according to a council spokesman.

“The site drops away rapidly at the end of our playground,” said Mr Kelly. “The new building will make the best use of that space.

“It will take a little bit of play space but once they demolish the 1940s building we gain more space, which we’ll need.”

Mr Kelly added there would be a net increase in the amount of playground per child.