School plans under fire

Jayne Ludlam, acting head of children's services, Sheffield.
Jayne Ludlam, acting head of children's services, Sheffield.
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Plans to create an extra 90 places at a Sheffield primary school are under fire from parents who fear the move will affect standards of education and aggravate traffic problems.

A petition being circulated expresses concerns over proposed changes at Darnall’s Acres Hill Primary, including the installation of two temporary classrooms and new toilet facilities.

The school is one of several across the city facing expansion to deal with a booming birth rate, an issue which is set to dominate education planning for years to come.

Planning permission for the changes has yet to be granted and one father with two children at the school said he feared the process was being rushed.

“There is to be a drop-in session for parents this afternoon at a time when most people are at work and our petition is calling for parents to be fully consulted,” said Qammar Khawaja of Prince of Wales Road.

“We have also seen what happened at other nearby schools – when more pupils were admitted standards went down and we don’t want the same to happen here.”

Toilet facilities for the extra children would also be inadequate and the issues needed to be carefully examined by councillors, Mr Khawaja added.

Jayne Ludlam, the council’s interim executive director for children and young people, said: “We are experiencing a demand for more school places across the city and would always want children to attend a school in their local area.

“The expansion at Acres Hill is one that we are considering. The school would always want to talk to their parents and communities prior to any decision.”

Acres Hill headteacher Lee Garbutt added: “In partnership with the council we have already begun working with families about the newly proposed extra places and more meetings are planned, including in the evening for working parents.

“Parents who cannot attend a face to face meeting will be able e-mail us to make their views known and ask questions. We recognise that some parents have strong views and urge them to get involved.”