Primary school expansions agreed by Havering Cabinet
PUBLISHED: 11:58 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 11:58 06 November 2015
At least five primary schools have been put forward for expansion in a bid to ease the shortage of school places in the borough, Havering Council’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday.
Proposals to expand 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 have been approved, following a report which predicts more than 3,000 extra school places will be needed in the next five years.
Cabinet member for children and learning, Cllr Meg Davis, said the need for extra school places was “phenomenal”.
The report showed there was a deficit of eight forms of entry in primary schools and 72 Year 7 places across the borough for the academic year 2016-17.
And there could be more than 500 Year 7 places needed in 2020 if nothing is done.
“There is outstanding leadership in some of our schools and we want to maintain that high standard when we look ahead,” said Cllr Davis.
The report also stressed at least one extra reception class will be needed in Romford and another in Upminster and Cranham on top of the expansions proposed.
This comes after 80 parents expressed concerns to MP Andrew Rosindell when they were warned by school governors of plans to expand Gidea Park Primary School.
At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Graham Williamson and Cllr Phil Martin said expansions had to ensure facilities in schools – such as kitchen and dining halls – would be enlarged accordingly.
Cllr Davis said parents’ concerns over parking were taken seriously and proposals to improve traffic around schools were being considered.
In the past year, 1,200 penalty notices have been issued around schools.
While more places are needed in Hornchurch, the council said it was not proposing expansions in that area as there is surplus capacity in Elm Park.
The cabinet also agreed to increase the provision of school places for children with special education needs.
Cllr Davis said: “It is very important we bring them very much into our society and look at their needs.”
Leader Cllr Roger Ramsey said providing places “is one of our biggest challenges” and the council was also “exploring the possibility” for sites where free schools could be built.
Another option being looked at is to create primary classes within precincts of existing secondary schools, which has been done by other boroughs.
The shortage of places comes on the back of council decisions from 2006 to shut down schools in order to reduce 2,500 spare primary places at the time.
Cllr Ramsey admitted predictions of demographic growth underestimated the boom in birth rates the borough has experienced since 2010.
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