A UNION leader believes the ‘fragmentation’ of schools will make it difficult to plan for a boom in pupil numbers.

Simon Jones’ comments came as one Oswaldtwistle school revealed it was expanding to cater for more youngsters.

Nationally, the number of children in state schools will reach the highest point since the mid-70s due to population, plus emphasis on a later school leaving age of 18.

England’s state schools will cater for eight million within a decade with the first secondary increase and further primary increases next September.

Mr Jones, from the Blackburn NUT, said: “This is going to be a massive challenge. With the fragmentation of schools we currently have, it is impossible for authorities to control places or to have a coherent system.”

However Burnley’s new free school claims it is ahead of demand. Currently Burnley secondary schools are under subscribed.

Burnley High School’s executive principal Elizabeth Haddock said it was not just a question of places but of providing choice and quality for parents.

She said: “Where the community has demonstrated a need for more choice, the free school movement allows those type of places to be provided.

“People don’t just want more places, they want a really good school in their area. There’s nothing wrong with the choice of different types of school - there are different types of children after all.”

Meanwhile, St Andrews CofE Primary in Oswaldtwistle is expanding as staff cannot fit into the staffroom for meetings and the head teacher is evicted from her office for children’s music lessons.

Annual entry numbers at the school have soared from 20 in 2001 to 45 this year. The school is also set to accept younger children next year.

As well as a bigger staff room, it will also gain a studio room and group work room.

Head teacher Tina Wilkinson said the expansion made the prospect of more pupils very exciting but she said they would not be so enthusiastic without the building work planned.

She said: “The new expansion will be brilliant. If there was no building work however, the increase in demand wouldn’t be good news.”