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Eldwick, Cullingworth, Keighley, Haworth, Fagley, Shipley, Silsden and Idle primaries would be expanded
Bradford Council is set to make the “difficult decision” to increase pupil numbers at a number of primary schools across the district, despite opposition from many parents, staff and governors.
On Tuesday, the Council’s executive will meet to decide on school expansions that will create more than 550 places over the next few years – a response to the growing populations across Bradford.
A consultation into the expansions was held late last year and while the Council’s proposals found support from some schools, hundreds of parents at others were against such large increases.
Among the schools set to expand are Eldwick Primary School in Bingley, which will go from a capacity for 391 pupils to 525, down from a previously suggested 630. Others are Cullingworth Primary School (210 to 315), Victoria Primary School in Keighley (210 to 315), Haworth Primary School (262 to 315), St Clare’s Primary School in Fagley (177 to 210), St Anthony’s in Shipley (126 to 210) and Aire View Infants School in Silsden (238 to 270). Idle Primary School could double in size, taking on an extra 220 pupils.
The increase will happen over several years. Pupil Allocation Numbers, which determine how many pupils can enrol in a school each year, will increase from September 2014. The expansions will also require planning permission for the extra buildings being granted by August 2014.
The Council says the schools were chosen because of their catchment areas’ rising populations and says if they were not expanded many parents would be unable to get their children enrolled in a local school.
Reaction to the plans have been mixed. In Haworth there was overwhelming opposition, with over 250 parents objecting.
In Keighley, all but one of the 18 responses were in favour of the changes to Victoria School and the school governors’ wrote to the council saying: “The governing body would fully support the increase and advise that we currently have a waiting list of 15 for reception and are full in all age groups.
“Nine appeals were submitted for reception places this year, all unsuccessful, if the numbers were increased it would stop this and the stress for parents would be less.”
Response to the Eldwick expansion was more mixed – 13 supported it but 28 responses were against it. Anne Marie Edwardes, chair of governors at the school, wrote to the Council voicing opposition.
She said: “We are both disappointed and concerned at your recommendation. We believe it will cause considerable disruption and have an ongoing detrimental effect on teaching and learning.”
The councillor in charge of education at the Council, Ralph Berry, said: “With the rising pupil numbers we have to make some difficult decisions. We have seen a 20 per cent cut in capital funding but we have rising numbers, so we need to find the most cost effective way of realising these places.”