School crisis intensifies

PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 September 2012

It is not yet known how many school places will be needed for next year in Portishead.

It is not yet known how many school places will be needed for next year in Portishead.

Archant

THE Portishead schools crisis intensified this week after a way forward failed to be agreed at a public meeting.

Being one of the fastest growing towns in Europe, Portishead is expected to have a shortfall of school places for children living in the town for at least the next three years, especially in the new developments where building is still in progress.

North Somerset Council proposed to solve the problem by expanding High Down infant and junior schools, in Down Road, making them both 420-place primary schools, but these proposals have now been put on the back-burner in the face of strong public opposition.

The consultation meeting at Somerset Hall on Monday provided a chance for the public to raise their concerns and also come up with solutions.

A presentation showed the expansion of all existing school sites is now being explored and that areas of council owned and non-council land have also been investigated.

Fierce opposition to the suggested expansion of other schools left people fearing the consultation would travel full-circle and return to High Down, or result in four year olds being ferried to schools outside the town.

High Down Action Group member Tanya Slatter said: “We are in danger of not reaching a solution because so many people are concerned about the expansion of any of the schools.

“Unless we can all work together, along with the local authority, to find a solution, we could be faced with more children being sent to another town for their education which is not acceptable.”

North Somerset Council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, Jeremy Blatchford, said: “North Somerset Council has a legal obligation to provide sufficient school places for children across the region which we are doing.

“However, we do understand parents living in Portishead do not want to have to send their children out of town for schooling. We don’t want to see this happen either but we need to work together to find a solution to the shortfall of school places in Portishead.

“I want everyone who has ideas to put forward to ensure they do so in writing before the end of the consultation period so that every single avenue and idea can be explored.”

Ideas can be emailed to Cllr Blatchford at jeremy.blatchford@n-somerset.gov.uk or sent to school.organisation@n-somerset.gov.uk by October 12.

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