9:00am Tuesday 27th November 2012
By James Rush
Plans have been published to increase the size of some primary schools across the district to cope with a predicted surge in pupil numbers, particularly in the Aire Valley.
A public consultation process has started about where to create an extra 1,210 school places over the next nine years.
Bradford Council yesterday named nine primary schools in areas of fast-growing populations where school rolls could grow.
Among the biggest planned increases is at Eldwick Primary School, near Bingley, which could see the school expand from 391 pupils up to 630 pupils over seven years from 2013/14.
Idle CE Primary School is proposed to expand by a further 220 places, or alternatively, Parkland Primary School, Thorpe Edge, could expand by an extra 114 places to cater for demand.
Other schools in the Aire Valley which are proposed to grow are Cullingworth Primary or Denholme Primary; Merlin Top Primary School or Victoria Primary School, Keighley; Haworth Primary School or Lees Primary School, Keighley; St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School, Shipley, and Aire View Infants School, Silsden, or Steeton Primary School.
The Bradford schools included in the consultation document are Shibden Head Primary School in Queensbury, which has been earmarked to increase capacity by 211 places, and St Clare’s Catholic Primary School, Fagley.
Views are also being sought on plans to change the admission priority areas for Eldwick Primary and the admission policies for Hill Top CE Primary School, Low Moor; Myrtle Park Primary School, Bingley, and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Keighley.
The Council’s document warns that the district’s rising child population means that extra reception class places will be needed in the foreseeable future.
It states: “Over the past three years we have consulted on increasing intake numbers at a number of primary schools to meet the demand for places.
“It still appears, however, that numbers are continuing to rise and there will be a shortfall of places in some areas of the district.
“We are therefore consulting on enlarging a number of primary schools to enable us to implement further proposed increases in planned admission numbers.”
Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “We want as many people as possible to respond to this consultation so they can help shape the future of our schools.
“These proposals will allow expansion work to start on some of our schools which will provide much-needed places for the increasing numbers of children in the district.”
Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat group, questioned whether more should be done to increase places by building new schools in inner city Bradford.
“Clearly we have got to have enough spaces for school children, but what they really need to do is look at starting to build in the inner city, that’s where the demand is and what they are doing is increasing pressure just outside the area,” she said.
“We have two schools in my ward that have seen a massive increase in the number of children, but not a substantial increase in the number of facilities – there’s two schools that don’t have access to playing fields.
“So it’s not about trying to pour more children into already full schools. The Council has got to bite the bullet and start talking about building more schools.”
In response, Coun Berry said the Council was looking at other ways of increasing school places, even if it meant challenging Government policies.
He said: “The Government is trying to say local authorities can’t open new schools and we have to have academies. The issue for us is that we need schools in places where the children are – that’s not always the cheapest option.
“We have been deprived of resources to build schools where we need them.”
Councillor Roger L’Amie, the Council’s Conservative group education spokesman, was not available for comment last night.
The consultation ends on Friday, December 21.
Capital costs for building work would be provided by the authority from the Basic Needs capital allocations received from the Department or Education.
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