School expansion fails to solve pupil place shortage

pencils

- Credit: Archant

THE expansion of a primary school in Portishead has not solved the shortage of reception school places in the town.

In addition to a two-storey extension at St Peter’s Primary School, which will allow it to provide three classes for each year group from September, both Trinity and Portishead Primary schools will each have to take up to 30 extra pupils.

North Somerset Council has exercised its right to breach normal admission arrangements to prevent children having to attend schools outside the town.

While many parents are pleased their children will not have to be schooled out of the area, others are concerned of the affect the breach will have on pupils already at the two schools affected. They say they are not designed to accommodate the swelling pupil numbers.

Mell Prideaux, who has two children at Portishead Primary, where admission numbers were also breached in 2011, said: “This is horrendous news, facilities like the school hall, dining services, the staff room and parking areas are already stretched to the limit. I guess this means another temporary classroom in the playground, it is ridiculous and is putting pressure on the whole school.”


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Meanwhile, parents who campaigned for a new free school in the town say they feel frustrated that interest in the free school decreased when the expansion of St Peter’s was confirmed as parents believed this would solve the shortage of school places.

Ian Slatter, a dad who supported the campaign for another school in Portishead, said: “It’s a shame it took many months of campaigning by concerned parents to persuade the council they had underestimated the need for reception places again this year.”

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And Laura Haseldine, one of the founder members of the Village Quarter Parent Group which pushed for a new school said: “It is interesting to see the initial pupil number predictions that lead us to apply to open a free school were correct.

“I really hope this is the last year our primary schools have to take extra classes though, as they really are all full to bursting. It’s a shame there hasn’t been the planning or funding for what Portishead appears to really need - a new primary school.”

A North Somerset Council spokesman said: “We are working with both schools to see what changes are needed to accommodate the extra pupils in the most effective way. Any necessary works will be carried out during the summer.”

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