Plans for two 420-place schools

TWO new schools could be created on existing sites in Portishead to help meet the growing need for primary school places in the town.

North Somerset Council needs to extend primary school capacity in Portishead by 210 places and is looking at making both High Down Infant and High Down Junior schools in Down Road, into two 420 place primary schools by September 2013.

The junior school currently has a capacity for 360 pupils and the infants 270.

In a letter to parents, the headteachers say both schools would continue to be led by the current headteachers and the existing staff maintained. Additional teaching areas and classrooms would be built and more staff recruited.

The news has been greeted with dismay by some parents with children at the schools.

Ian Slatter who has a child at each said: “This is North Somerset Council’s attempt to deal with problems caused by lack of planning to deal with the massive expansion in the town in recent years. This is a problem that has not been solved by the opening of Trinity Primary and it has been made worse by the closure of St Barnabas.”

While the shortage of places is undoubtedly a problem, residents have raised many concerns about the latest proposals.

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They fear congestion and disruption for people living nearby, during both building works and when pupil numbers are increased.

In addition, parents of children already at the schools say they are worried their children’s education will be disrupted. Others think even more places will be needed in the future, so the expansion of the schools will not provide a long-term solution to the ongoing problem.

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “Talks are at a very early stage and if initial proposals are approved a consultation process will begin.”

Open meetings to discuss the plans will take place in the infant school hall on July 16 at 6.30pm and in the junior school hall on July 17 at 9.15am.