‘Baby boom’ schools alert

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THREE hundred extra places are to be created at two Sheffield secondary schools as part of a £5 million project to cope with a looming baby boom.

Tapton and Bradfield schools will each have 150 new places by September 2015, once extensions have been built.

Cash for the scheme is being taken from the £10 million previously allocated to rebuild Abbeydale Grange - which will finally close this summer, removing 600 places from the system.

Both Bradfield and Tapton are already popular schools - and council planners believe the extra places at Tapton will be taken up by larger numbers of children from within its catchment area, rather than creating space for pupils from other parts of the city.

A rising birth rate has already forced education chiefs to increase school places in 11 primaries, especially in the north east of the city.

Pupil numbers in secondaries will begin to rise in 2015, a process which will continue for the rest of the decade.

Pressure for places will be especially tight in 2018-19 and experts say places will eventually run out unless action is taken.

It is expected that two other schools will be expanded in time for 2018 but plans are still in the development stage and will be subject to consultation.

Potential hot spots needing extra places include Darnall, Tinsley and the whole of the north east of the city.

The only areas not expecting an increase are the south east and outlying northern suburbs.

The new strategy represents a sea change on measures adopted over the last 10 years.

Birth rates in Sheffield reached a low point in 2002 and for the next few years the council came under Government pressure to remove spare places from the system.

It led to the controversial merger of Wisewood and Myers Grove schools, and the closure of Abbeydale Grange.

Coun Colin Ross, Sheffield Council cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “We have recognised the problem in plenty of time which gives us enough time to plan the places.

“Future pupils need to have the choice to attend their local schools so it is vital that this piece of work is done now.

“We don’t want to have a problem in years to come.

“Being forward thinking and tackling issues like this now will alleviate what could possibly be a lot of pain and heartache for many families in years to come.”

n Councils oppose plan for new school: See page 17