Talks about expanding infant school

Consultation on school expansion in Backwell.

Consultation on school expansion in Backwell. - Credit: Archant

A CONSULTATION is being carried out on whether to expand West Leigh Infant School in Backwell.

North Somerset Council is considering expanding the school so it can take 180 pupils instead of the current 135 from September 2014.

Cllr Jeremy Blatchford, executive member for children and young people’s services, has approved the consultation process to gauge views of staff and parents at the school.

The expansion is being considered due to a growing demand for primary school places in Backwell and the surrounding area.

Demand for places for September 2013 exceeded supply and there are fears some children living in Backwell may have to travel to other towns for school places if the scheme does not go ahead.

Cllr Blatchford said: “Backwell is a gradually growing community and it’s essential that wherever possible children should be educated where they live.

“This is an outstanding school feeding into an outstanding junior school and growth is essential for the village.”

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West Leigh Infant and Backwell Junior schools became a federation in April and are run by one governing body and led by one executive headteacher.

The infant school can currently take 45 new reception pupils, while the junior school can admit 60 students.

West Leigh Infant School has greeted the possible expansion positively and some comments have suggested the scheme is overdue.

If the intake does swell, additional funding could be available to the school.

At the council’s executive meeting in April, members approved £185,000 to enable the school’s library to be converted into a class base, for some remodelling to create a learning resource centre and an extension to the current classroom.

These changes should enable the school to accommodate up to 180 pupils on the current site in Westfield Drive.

The six-week consultation will begin in early September and a decision is expected to be made early next year.