Blackpool schools could reduce class sizes

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Two Blackpool primary schools are consulting over reducing their admission sizes in readiness for an expected dip in birth rates in the town.

Marton Primary Academy and Mereside Primary School are both set to reduce their intake in coming years.

Class sizes could be reduced at some Blackpool schools

Class sizes could be reduced at some Blackpool schools

Marton is consulting over reducing its admission from 60 to 30 pupils, while Mereside is consulting over reducing from 60 to 40 pupils, a meeting of the council's Children and Young People's Scrutiny Committee heard.

Blackpool's School Organisation Plan for the next eight years has predicted falling birth rates will mean less demand for primary school places.

Director of children's services Diane Booth said: "We are trying to take a flexible approach, it's not guess work, it's using intelligence.

"The schools are on board. Rather than close anywhere, we reduce class sizes."

Ms Booth said this also ensured there was flexibility built into the plan in case demand increased again in the future.

The School Organisation Plan for the period up to August 31, 2028

forecasts that in eight years' time surplus capacity of school places in the primary sector will have reached 14 per cent compared to the current level of 6.8 per cent.

However demand for places in secondary schools will remain steady as existing large classes of children progress through the education system.

Education chiefs have looked at information including birth rate predictions and house-building expectations to calculate how many school places will be required between 2020 and 2028.

Numbers look set to decrease over the coming years, with a forecast of 1,511 reception year pupils in 2027/28 compared to 1,858 available places, a surplus of 347.

Year seven numbers (the first year of secondary school) are likely to increase until 2025, partly due to new houses built in Blackpool and on its border bringing additional families to the town, and as peak numbers of primary age children move to secondary schools.

There are currently around 19,000 young people in Blackpool requiring a school place, including 11,779 primary school places and 6,173 secondary school places (not including special schools).

Around 3,200 new homes are expected to be built in Blackpool by 2026/27.