WORK to create an extra 1,500 places to help ease the strain on Bradford’s bulging schools is currently underway, according to a new report.

There are currently nine schools that are either in the process of being expanded, or are in the planning stages for major expansions, and Bradford Council says each of these projects is costing “over £2 million.”

On Wednesday the Council’s Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee will hear what is being done to find the extra school places Bradford will need over the coming years. They will be told that while the numbers of primary school aged pupils in the district is decreasing, the number of secondary school pupils will be rising in the next two years.

However the Council says it “should deliver sufficient places” for pupils in the next few years.

The past several years has seen the expansion of numerous primary schools, and much of the focus of school expansions will now be on finding more secondary spaces.

The report, by Michael Jameson, Director for Children’s Services, says that along with the school expansions, two new free schools, which the Educational Skills and Funding Agency are in the process of delivering, will create an extra 1,200 places. Under government regulations, councils are unable to open new schools, which means to find extra places they either have to expand existing schools or rely on free schools choosing to open in areas with a high need for places.

The report says: “The increase in primary numbers has slowed with forecast numbers in some areas of the District starting to reduce. The pressure on pupil numbers at secondary level is increasing as the increased primary numbers move through the system. The secondary school expansions that the Council is undertaking, together with the new Free Schools the ESFA are delivering should deliver sufficient places for future years.”

The biggest school expansion currently underway is Immanuel College in Thackley.

A planning application was submitted last week that would see a major expansion to the building of the secondary school, allowing it to take on an extra 300 pupils.

Work to expand Parkside Secondary in Cullingworth was recently completed, allowing it to take on an extra 150 students, and last month a £4.7million expansion plan for Ilkley Grammar School was approved, allowing it to take on an extra 195 students.

Three primary schools are being expanded that will allow them to each take on an extra 210 pupils. Work at Barkerend Primary is currently underway, while a planning application for Poplars Farm Primary in Bolton Woods was submitted in February, and an application to expand Low Ash Primary in Wrose is soon to be submitted.

Construction work is underway to expand Stocks Lane Primary in Clayton Heights, creating 105 extra places, and a 105 space expansion of Ilkley All Saints Primary is also pending.

Silsden Primary School has been created out of the merger of Aire View Infants and Hothfield Junior school, and a new site for that school will create an extra 60 spaces. A planning application for that school expansion was submitted last year.

The scrutiny committee meets in City Hall at 4.30pm on Wednesday.