Concern over school cabins

Blackpool Councillor Sarah Riding
Blackpool Councillor Sarah Riding
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Parents in Blackpool today told of their concerns after new figures claimed the demand for classroom places in the resort could hit breaking point within four years.

The Gazette reported this week how figures released by the Local Government Association, based on the number of school places in 2012, claimed another 650 pupils are expected to be placed in resort schools by 2016, leaving the town running at 107 per cent capacity.

Council bosses said the figures did not take account of the extra 1,050 places at the new Gateway Academy in South Shore, and extra classrooms elsewhere.

But education cabinet member Coun Sarah Riding did say central areas remain hotspots for demand and plans including a new secondary school or using portable cabins at schools have been examined.

Now parents at Devonshire Primary School, on the edge of the town centre, have given their reaction to the prediction.

Shelley Bailey, 41, from Caunce Street, central Blackpool, said: “It is a concern because my youngest daughter’s due to be in nursery soon and her name’s down to go here so I’m hoping, fingers crossed, she’ll get in.

“I wouldn’t be very happy if the council brought in portable cabins.”

Deanna Grundy, 30, from Addison Crescent, Layton, said: “I wouldn’t be happy if they brought in portable cabins because I learned in one and I don’t think you get the same benefit as other children.”

Kelly Moore, 30, from Sharow Grove, South Shore, said: “It does seem a concern if children can’t get as much one on one.

“We used to have lessons in portable cabins but it’s like being in a box.”

Sheri Penfold, 42, from George Street, central Blackpool, said: “They build the schools smaller nowadays so there’s not a lot of places.

“I think it’s alright here though.” John Girdley, Lancashire national executive member for the NASUWT, says the blame lays at the door of central Government.

He said: “In terms of the picture in Blackpool it doesn’t surprise me because I know it’s happening across the country.

“The authority will have known about the problem for several years but when central Government take the money and control away from them there’s not a lot you can do.

“The blame must be laid firmly in the hands of the Government.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “In Blackpool we are spending over £8.8 million on creating new school places.

“Since 2010 around 15,000 extra places have been created in the North West with many more still to come.”

The funds were used to help fund projects including the building of Gateway Academy, the building of a new primary school with capacity for 420 pupils at Unity College, and the rebuilding of Mereside Primary School – which has created an extra 60 possible places.

Coun Riding told The Gazette portable cabins would only be introduced in “desperate” situations and the situation is always monitored closely.

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