Britain’s biggest primary set to get bigger

Headmaster Bob Garton with his whole school staff and pupils

Headmaster Bob Garton with his whole school staff and pupils - Credit: Archant

Gascoigne, Britain’s biggest primary school, is one of three in the borough set to increase their yearly intake by up to 50 per cent.

The Barking school, which currently has almost 1,200 pupils, would expand from five to seven forms with the creation of an extra building on its Shaftesbury Road site.

The measures were due to be discussed at Cabinet last night (Tues).

They would allow for an extra 60 places per year group from

September next year, beginning with reception and growing each year until 2022 – increasing annual admission from 150 to 210 pupils.

Marsh Green Primary could double from one to two forms of entry, and Dagenham secondary Jo Richardson could increase from eight to 10.

The expansions are a result of the borough’s rapidly rising child population. The number of five to 10-year-olds rose by more than 27pc between 2009 and 2013, compared to just six pc in Havering.

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Retention rate, the number of children born in the borough requiring a reception place, has risen to more than 104pc in the past five years.

The expansion of Jo Richardson will be boosted by a new £3million maths block at the end of the summer, much to headteacher Ges Smith’s delight.

“It’s a very exciting challenge,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we support and adapt to make sure we continue the high standards we have right now.

“I believe the expansion will only enhance pupils’ school experience.”

Marsh Green headteacher Natalie Sanchez echoed his views.

“It’s always exciting to welcome more children to the school,” she said.

“It’s definitely a positive to have two classes in each year, allowing the pupils and staff to work together and benefit from more shared experiences.”

A council spokeswoman said: “This rise in demand and ongoing pressure for school places is due to the largest population growth seen in any borough across the country.”