Norfolk’s vision for new schools to cope with rising pupil numbers

PUBLISHED: 13:14 23 January 2013 | UPDATED: 13:14 23 January 2013

A member of staff cleans the white board, and the classroom is set ready for the next school day.

Generic pic... school/teacher
photo - Denise Bradley         3 of 22
copy -  Isabel Cockayne
For -   EDP SUNDAY cover story
City - Thetford, Norfolk
EDP pics © 2003 tel 01603 772434

A member of staff cleans the white board, and the classroom is set ready for the next school day. Generic pic... school/teacher photo - Denise Bradley 3 of 22 copy - Isabel Cockayne For - EDP SUNDAY cover story City - Thetford, Norfolk EDP pics © 2003 tel 01603 772434

The county could see a large number of new schools being built over the coming years to cope with the rising number of young people in the county, under plans to be discussed by councillors tomorrow.

Areas planned to have one or more new schools:

• Sprowston, Old Catton, Rackheath – a number of new primaries, and a new secondary school for 10,000 homes by 2026

• Thetford – two new primary schools with 1,260 places for 5,000 homes

• Wymondham – one primary school for 2,200 homes

• Attleborough – one or two primary schools and high school expansion for 4,000 homes

It is predicted that by 2019 the number of 0 to 19-year-olds in the county will have increased by 9,000, meaning a greater need for more primary school places.

North Norwich (particularly Sprowston and Old Catton), Rackheath, Thetford, Wymondham and Attleborough are all areas which have been highlighted in a report by Norfolk County Council as “major strategic locations” in need of one or more new schools.

Cringleford, Hethersett, southern King’s Lynn, Bradwell, Fakenham and central Norwich have been identified as areas which may “possibly” need new builds.

According to the report, which will be presented to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel tomorrow, the need for primary school places is much greater than for secondary school ones.

Areas where new schools are anticipated:

• Cringleford – a new primary school and 1,200 homes

• Hethersett – one new primary school, an expansion of the high school and 1,200 homes

• King’s Lynn south – one 420-place primary school and 1,000 homes

• Bradwell – one primary school and 1,000 homes

• Fakenham – one primary school and up to 900 homes

• Central Norwich – one primary school and 3,000 homes

The report shows an assessment for the coming 10 years and in north Norwich an unspecified number of new primary schools, as well as a new secondary school, are highlighted as being needed to cope with 10,000 houses planned by 2026.

A new primary school in Hethersett is being put forward as 1,200 new homes are planned for the area, and a central Norwich location may be sought for a primary school if the 3,000 homes planned go ahead.

Cringleford Primary School will grow from 210 to 420 pupils as part of its £7.7m project when it moves into new buildings this Easter, and in Wymondham the 2,200 new homes planned should see one primary school be built.

Thetford, which has 5,000 new houses planned, will need 1,260 primary school places to meet the demand of the housing development.

And in Attleborough the newly- planned 4,000 homes would plan to see an expansion of the high school, a relocation of the infant school with an added expansion, an extension of the junior school, and up to two new primary schools to be added to the town.

The report, described as a Baseline Assessment, is a response to the plans of seven district councils to add new houses to Norfolk over the next 10 to 15 years.

This will be funded by government grants, housing developer contributions and a Locally Controlled Voluntary Aided Programme, LCVAP, which is a grant from the Department for Education to schools which are owned by a charity or a local church for building and repairs.

Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We know that Norfolk’s school population will grow considerably in the next 10 to 15 years.

“It is essential that we plan for this increase at the earliest opportunity, and work together with our partners – schools, academy sponsors, dioceses, and district councils – to plan a viable solution to the growing number of pupils at a time when resources are stretched and money is tight.

“As always, Norfolk children, young people and families are at the heart of our plans and we must ensure that anything we do is in the best interests of children now and for future generations.”

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said the school expansions are something she has discussed with the county council already.

She said: “I don’t think this is a case of an influx of people coming to the area but is about getting a plan applied for children who already live there.” And the MP for Mid Norfolk, George Freeman, said he believed it was right that the county council had these conversations now with schools, academy sponsors, dioceses and district councils “ to ensure that all the relevant agencies know the pupil levels we need to cater for, and their roles and responsibilities, at the earliest possible stage.”

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