MORE Worthing primary school places are having to be provided to cope with increasing demands on classroom space.
“Infill development” is cited by West Sussex County Council as a contributory cause of pressure on the education authority to accommodate parents’ first-choice wishes for children starting school.
“This is not a blip”, says the county council. “It is an ongoing trend which is being felt across Worthing, and West Sussex.”
Millions of pounds are being spent on providing more first-school places, something which borough council leader Paul Yallop said reflected the changing demographics of Worthing.
“Many people consider our town a great place to bring up a family,” he said, but added: “Whilst I am pleased to learn West Sussex County Council are increasing primary school places, I also have major concerns over our secondary school system.
“Worthing is the only remaining place in West Sussex where children transfer at age 12. Statistics show that those who transfer to secondary school aged 11 get better GCSE results. I understand the county council will be meeting with the schools to discuss this important issue soon,” he said.
One of the biggest current projects proposed is a £2million scheme for the Vale First and Middle School, in Findon Valley.
A planning application lodged with Worthing council proposes a new hall, entrance and administration area, four new classrooms, a library, new kitchens, staffroom and general alterations.
One of the classrooms will be a replacement for one demolished to make way for the new hall, which can be acoustically partitioned into two areas for greater flexibility.
Young book-lovers will be especially glad of the library, as the school does not have one at present,
All these improvements will increase the school’s capacity from its present maximum of up to 675 to 720 by September, 2014 (90 in each year group). Headmaster Martin Garratt said: “We are very pleased with the plans West Sussex have proposed for the development of our site. The new classrooms, increased hall space and new kitchens enabling us to provide hot meals for the children, are a welcome addition to our school.”
Peter Griffiths, the county council’s cabinet member for education and schools, said the Vale school was proposed for expansion to meet the rising number of children starting school.
“It is proposed that building work will start in October and be completed in the summer of 2013,” he added.
Two more new inclusions in the improvements pipeline are Elm Grove County First School, in Elm Grove, Worthing, and Springfield First School in Sackville Road, Worthing.
Three “temporary” units in the Elm Grove school’s playground will be demolished as they come to the end of their “useful life”, and more classroom space will be provided over the next three years, raising the capacity from 240 to 285.
Springfield First School is being expanded to become a two-form entry school. Two additional classrooms will be built to accommodate an increase from 45 to 60 pupils a year, thereby offering a total of 240 places across the school.
It is intended for building to start this summer and be completed by summer next year.
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