Great Yarmouth schools set to expand under £2.3m investment plan
12:19 07 February 2014
Two Great Yarmouth schools are set to grow under a £2.3m investment plan to help accommodate the shortfall of pupil places in the town.
Southtown Infant and Edward Worlledge Junior are both poised to become primary schools and take children from reception age all the way through to 11.
Currently, pupils join Southtown at the age of four and leave aged seven to go to Edward Worlledge where they stay until moving onto secondary school.
But in a bid to address the shortage of school places, Norfolk County Council is proposing to increase capacity at both sites .
Under the plans, estimated to cost around £2.3m, Southtown would rise from 180-210 pupils, and Edward Worlledge would almost double its places from 240-420.
A shortage of school places in the town was flagged by council chiefs last week after it was revealed the number of students at the town’s only remaining secondary school is set to climb beyond its capacity in the next five years.
The possibility of building a new secondary school in the town is now being investigated.
Staff at both Southtown and Edward Worlledge have welcomed the extension move and feel the scheme would provide a real boost for the Southtown area.
Dawn Kightley, headteacher at Edward Worlledge, said: “I think it’s really exciting news for the area because under the last re-organisation it didn’t happen for us. We didn’t have new buildings or lots of money spent on us.
“It’s Southtown’s time to celebrate, things are happening for the children and the families and it’s really positive for the children.”
Both schools are set to take on extra students from September and hope to benefit from new facilities and buildings in the long term.
Plans are already under way to establish mobile buildings at Edward Worlledge to accommodate the influx of students, while minor “remodelling” works are expected to be carried out at Southtown to take on the extra pupils.
And planning chiefs are now exploring the long-term options for both sites.
Elaine Glendinning, headteacher at Southtown, said the school would be up to full capacity by 2016 and teachers were looking forward to having pupils for longer.
“We never like losing them at seven,” she added. “It’s obviously going to be better for the children because they’ll be working with teachers who know them.
“Research shows primary school education is a better model. If they leave at seven, they don’t attain as well.”
Mrs Kightley also backed the primary model and hoped the extension could result in the schools working closely together.
“In the consultation we did with our parents, 85pc of responses were positive and wanted this to happen,” she added. “I think there’s a clear message that everybody is really positive about this move.”