A SCHOOL has applied to drop its intake ahead of the opening of a proposed free school.

Cedars Primary School was expected to become Blackburn’s largest primary school after the merger of Hawthorn Junior School and Cedar’s Infant School.

But the school has applied to drop its intake from 90 to 75 amid claims the intake of other Blackburn schools are also affected by the provision of the 600-place Olive Islamic School.

Last autumn, Sacred Heart RC Primary School claimed it was likely to close due to the the Olive, which also saw a number of staff members leave.

The change will mean the 540-place Cedars Primary will shrink to 450 in six years and 24 pupil places were unfilled this year, causing a loss of £60,000 to their anticipated budget.

Simon Jones, Chair of Governors at Cedars Primary and Lancashire’s NUT representative said other local schools were poised to reduce their intake.

Cedars headteacher Steve Bladon said: “New schools are changing the local demand for places. If I plan for 90 children, the school is staffed to accomodate that number and we spend accordingly.

“With 24 less children than anticipated this year, it means our budget is out by £60,000. It makes more sense to concentrate on smaller class sizes. The school will stay the same size, except for reception this year, but over time it will become smaller. We will focus on reducing class sizes from 30 to 25.”

However his chair of governors, Simon Jones, said schools were telling the union that numbers across the area were due to fall. He said: “Schools I speak to are already preparing long term for reduced numbers because of applications like the Olive.

“This means that there will be fewer school places available for children at local authority schools over time. Schools will lose out on funding and it will see overall provision very damaged.”

The Tauheedul Trust, which oversees the Olive School, was unavailable for comment.