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Plans to tackle Barking and Dagenham school places crisis

PUBLISHED: 16:17 03 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:17 03 May 2013

The George Carey C of E Primary School in Barking opened in September 2011 and is temporarily being used by Barking Riverside School (to become Riverview Free School) until a permanent site is built.

The George Carey C of E Primary School in Barking opened in September 2011 and is temporarily being used by Barking Riverside School (to become Riverview Free School) until a permanent site is built.

Archant

The location of a new secondary school is due to be discussed later this month as one of a number of proposals to tackle the shortage of school places crisis.

Barking and Dagenham has been flagged as one of the areas most in need, as the borough experiences one of the highest birth rates in the country.

The number of children entering the school system at reception level is projected to increase by 672 by September 2020 – the equivalent to 23 forms of entry.

In September this year, an extra 101 pupils will enter primary schools.

Not sustainable

Helen Jenner, director of children’s services, said: “The council is committed to providing enough school places for every child in the borough, but this is becoming an incredibly challenging task.

“The short-term actions we are taking to meet the demand are not sustainable and we need enough money for permanent school places for all of the borough’s children.”

To cope with future demand the council is considering expanding Goodwin Primary and John Perry Primary along with a new three-form school at Lymington Fields, a 360-home development due to be built in Chadwell Heath this summer.

Secondary schools will have 226 spare places come this September’s intake, but the surplus won’t last with projections of a 75 per cent increase in pupil numbers in the next 10 years.

Plans include expanding the majority of secondary schools to add an extra 720 places by 2017, however this leaves a projected shortfall of 257 places.

Housing

Most recently, a new secondary school, Barking Riverside, was set up temporarily at George Carey CoE Primary School at the Riverside Centre to provide for the pupils coming from the new housing development.

The government’s allocation of £28.1million to the borough is approximately £12m below what the council estimates it needs to create a sufficient number of new places.

In March, a parliamentary session on the chronic need for school places in the UK took place at Barking Town Hall, using two of the borough’s schools as examples of severe overcrowding.


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