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Baby boom to hit East Lancs school places
HEADTEACHERS in East Lancashire are preparing for a surge in pupil numbers over the coming years.
It comes as a report by the National Audit Office found that more than 250,000 primary and secondary school places would be needed in England by 2014.
Already several schools have announced they will be expanding to create new places while others said they were struggling to cope with the demand.
One-off increases are recommended for St Andrew’s and St Paul’s CE primary schools in Oswaldtwistle, Woodnook, Hyndburn Park and Peel Park primaries in Accrington and Padiham St Leonard’s CE Primary.
Longer-term there are proposals to increase the intake at St Andrew’s and St Leonard’s to 45 from September 2014.
Hapton CE Methodist Primary School headteacher Jacquie Clarke said some schools could be forced to use libraries and other spare rooms to hold lessons.
She said: “We are oversubscribed, but more places have been allocated at St Leonard’s so we should be OK.
“It is because of the birth rates. The birth rate is going up, but we have still got the same number of places.
“Schools have got to look at space and how many pupils they can accommodate.
“We may have to hold lessons in libraries.
“Teachers would also have to look at the budget to see if they could employ a new teacher for the class.
“It could be very difficult for schools.”
The report highlighted a baby boom as the reason for the increased demand, with the rise in children being born in England between 2001 and 2011 the largest since the 1950s.
But Vincent Murray, headteacher at St Michael and St John’s RC Primary, in Lowergate, Clitheroe, said some areas were also being forced to consider the extra pressure housing applications were putting on schools.
He said: “It is something we have to have an eye on.
“There is regulation on class size and so we can’t start ramming children into classes.
“The logical answer would be to build extensions in the future, but that in itself is not the ideal solution.
“Most of the heads in the area are conscious about what the future will be with the increased demand for places.”
And David Whyte, headteacher at St Wilfrid’s, in Duckworth Street, Blackburn, said secondary schools would feel the brunt as the swell continued through to secondary schools.
He said: “From the figures, we know there will be a bulge coming through from primary schools in 2014.
“We are in one of the areas that the report highlighted as having a high birth rate.
“We are oversubscribed already.”
Lancashire County Council’s head of provision Lynn Mappin said more than 2,000 new primary places were coming on stream with ‘hotspots’ being watched.
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