Havering Council’s Cabinet school expansion decision delayed after alert over super-sized schools

Parents gathered outside Parsonage Farm Primary School on Tuesday to express their concerns about th

Parents gathered outside Parsonage Farm Primary School on Tuesday to express their concerns about the proposed expansion to four forms of entries - Credit: Archant

Plans to expand five primary schools in a bid to ease a school place shortage face further scrutiny after being called-in by councillors.

On November 4, Havering Council’s cabinet approved the expansion of St Peter’s Catholic Primary, Dorset Avenue, Romford, Crownfield Infants’ School, White Hart Lane, Rush Green, the James Oglethorpe Primary School, Ashvale Gardens, Upminster, and Broadford Primary, Faringdon Avenue, Harold Hill, after a report predicted more than 3,000 extra school places will be needed in the next five years.

Cllr David Durant (Rainham & Wennington, Independent Residents Group) and Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton, Labour) criticised government guidance that prevents local authorities from building new schools and objected to the planned expansions.

Cllr Durant is worried schools will not have the space and facilities to cater for an increase in the number of students and argued going up to four forms of entry – up to 120 pupils in each year – would “set a precedent in the borough for super-sized schools”.

Cllr Durant proposed Rainham Village Primary School, Upminster Road South, and Brady School, Wennington Road, to be considered for expansion rather than a fourth form of entry in Parsonage Farm Primary School, Farm Road, which would eventually have more than 800 pupils.

Cabinet member for children and learning, Meg Davis, said the cabinet agreed to limit primary school expansions to four forms of entry and was working closely with headteachers in schools where expansion was considered.

“We already have good schools in the borough which have four forms of entry. This is certainly not super-sized, or uncommon in Havering, or neighbouring authorities,” she said.

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Cllr Darvill is not against “larger schools” but called on the council “to plan properly” and provide new school places, where they are most needed in the borough.

He urged other councillors to speak up against the free school policy and hopes the delay of the proposal will provide “the opportunity to better explain the proposed plans to parents”.