Parents object to bigger school

A PETITION containing more than 150 names has been collected in opposition to the expansion of a city primary school.

Parents of pupils at St Catherine's Catholic Primary School in Burngreave said they objected to the expansion because of the disruption it would cause to the children during the building work, the reduction in the amount of play space, and the increased traffic brought to the local area causing a danger to children and residents.

The 156 people who signed were also concerned about the creation of two large schools in close proximity of one another, and the effect it could have on the ethos of the school.

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The plans involve the expansion of the school to accommodate 420 pupils - from the 210 it currently teaches. The same proposals have also been put forward for Pye Bank Church of England School - providing 420 additional primary school places in Burngreave.

In nearby Fir Vale the plans are to transform and expand Owler Brook Nursery Infant from a separate phase school that takes 90 pupils between reception and year two, to a "through" primary school that takes 60 pupils a year between reception and year six. Whiteways Junior School will also become a "through" school - the joint effect providing an extra 210 primary school places in Fir Vale.

Responding to parents' concerns highlighted in the petition at a meeting of Sheffield Council's cabinet, Trish Slater, from the Children and Young People's Directorate, said a focus group would ensure the least disruption possible would be caused during the building work.

She added there were stringent national guidelines in place regarding the amount of playspace provided, and that it was not unusual to find two large schools within close proximity of each other.

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Ms Slater said a focus group had also been set up to look at the impact on traffic in the area and a separate round of consultation would be carried out as part of the planning process to gain people's views on this issue.

Referring to fears about the effect on the school's ethos she added that the Catholic diocese had been very supportive of the plans and said: "There is no reason why it should not benefit more pupils in a larger school."

Deputy leader of the council Steve Jones said: "I am reassured."

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