Primary schools to be expanded to meet extra demand


- Credit: Archant

A PRIMARY school which has been placed in special measures could expand in size to meet the increasing demand of school places in the district.

Wilshere-Dacre Junior School in Hitchin was placed in special measures last year by Ofsted, but Herts County Council (HCC) wants to expand the school by one form of entry by 2014/2015 – going from 60 students to 90.

As well as the expansion of Wilshere-Dacre Junior School, members of the Education and Skills Cabinet Panel were asked to recommend to cabinet the expansion of Lordship Farm Primary in Letchworth GC from 51 pupils to 90 pupils, Icknield Infants School in Letchworth GC from 81 pupils to 90 pupils, Martins Wood Primary in Stevenage from 60 to 90 pupils and Weston Primary School from 17 to 20 pupils in 2014/2015 at a meeting on Wednesday.

A spokesman from HCC said: “Wilshere-Dacre’s published admission number will be 90 in September 2014 to accommodate a ‘bulge’ that started at Strathmore Infants in September 2011. The additional pupils will be accommodated within the existing school buildings. The school is making rapid improvements under new leadership and receiving significant support from the local authority to help bring about the necessary improvements as quickly as possible.”

Father-of-two Adam Nichols, who has opened a free school in Harpenden and is pushing for the same in Hitchin, said: “People and parents are very concerned about the situation at Wilshere-Dacre. If the school does not turn around its performance parents will be looking for another alternative, which is why we hope HCC will work with us to bring in a new free school to meet the demand.”

The school in Fishponds Road did not live up to the education watchdog’s expectations at an inspection in October.

A report identified pupil achievement, quality of teaching and leadership and management as “inadequate”, and ruled behaviour and safety of pupils as requiring improvement.

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Speaking about the situatiuon in Stevenage,Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We have to meet the demand of primary school places in Stevenage, it is urgent and I am pleased that HCC has put the motions into place at Martins Wood.

“By the same token, I would hope that HCC also consider the demand it will place on secondary schools in the area too and that something is done about it before we reach breaking point.”

The final school to be considered for expansion is the Samuel Lucas JMI in Hitchin by one form of entry.

The plans, previously reported by the Comet, include a new 10-classroom block on the existing playing fields and a new school hall.

A planning application will be submitted in May.

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