School places hit by baby boom

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Doncaster is facing a major shortfall of school places if action is not taken, council officials have warned.

The town is facing a number of school place shortage ‘hotspots’ because of a surge in the birthrate over the last 10 years, and council bosses are urging the Government to provide extra money to help solve the problem.

Doncaster Council bosses say they are seeing a significant increase in the number of full primary schools and many reception classes are full.

Of the 91 primary schools with reception classes, eight are exceeding their official admission numbers, 40 are at their admissions level, and six are within five per cent of it.

The trend is expected to continue.

Figures published by Doncaster Council reveal the worst affected area is Armthorpe’s feeder schools.

The authority says there are eight potential hotspots - the feeder schools which feed Armthorpe, Balby, Campsmount, Don Valley, Hall Cross, Hatfield, Hungerhill and Ridgewood.

They all have less than a five per level of surplus places.

Of these areas three are facing ‘extreme pressures’ - Armthorpe, Balby and Hatfield.

They are projected to have an under supply of pupil places.

In total the council says 734 more places are needed there.

A report, which goes before the council’s cabinet on Friday, stated: “It is anticipated that any further development in these areas will trigger the need for additional primary school places.”

Coun Tony Corden, whose ward has the biggest forecast shortfall, said: “You have to be concerned if there is a possible shortfall of places, and it looks like we’re a hot-spot.

“It needs to be addressed because we need those school places.

“I would urge the people in charge to make sure we have the provision we need in Armthorpe.

“I think this has been building up for a period of time.

“Armthorpe seems to be a popular place to come and live, and with that you get the need for more school places. I’m keen class sizes don’t get bigger and want to make sure that they don’t.”

Capital bids have been made to the Government for a new primary school in Balby and major expansion schemes in Armthorpe and Balby within the next five years.

They would cost £7.7 million and create an additional 840 primary school places.

The plans would see Armthorpe Southfield, Balby Central, Hexthorpe, Askern Spa, Sandringham primary schools all remodelled and expanded.

Bentley High Street and Kirby Avenue primary schools would see classroom expansions.

Those are in addition to expansion plans to add temporary and modular classrooms to Sheep Dip Primary School, Hatfield and Bessacarr Primary this year and Shaw Wood Academy, Armthorpe, Stirling Primary, Hyde Park, Lakeside Primary, Kirk Sandal Junior School and Bawtry Mayflower Primary over the next two years.

Coun Nuala Fennelly, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Our children are our future and Doncaster Council’s number one priority.

“This project is about planning ahead and making sure we have provision in the right places so that we achieve educational outcomes as well as best value for money.

“In the next financial year we are creating around 300 extra primary places and will continue to plan, review the situation and consult with schools.”