Temporary classrooms the future in Blackpool?

The portable buildings used as classrooms at Unity College, North Shore, Blackpool
The portable buildings used as classrooms at Unity College, North Shore, Blackpool
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TEMPORARY classrooms could be the future for hundreds of Blackpool primary school pupils as demand for places soars above capacity.

The town desperately needs to build another primary school to the south of the town centre.

But as Government building budgets are slashed, concerns are growing about where the £5m funding to build the school will come from.

Yesterday The Gazette revealed how schools across the country are facing an 80 per cent reduction in their maintenance budgets.

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On top of this, education bosses are braced for the expected collapse of the Government’s 14 year Primary Capital programme, which set out to rebuild half the country’s primary schools.

But with five classes needed in total, and only enough cash in the coffers for three, education bosses are preparing to put their case directly to the Department for Education.

David Lund, director for children and adult services at Blackpool Council, said: “We have to find the money it’s as simple as that.

“The question is where it is going to come from.

“We’re awaiting the outcome of the James Review in March which is studying the way schools get funding.

“When this is clear we’ll be putting additional bids into the Department for Education and looking into selling off any surplus buildings.”

Anchorsholme, Hawes Side and Roseacre Primary were all next on the list to be rebuilt but plans have had to be shelved.

The resort has been penalised financially because of unusual population trends.

Although the number of primary pupils is now growing, secondary numbers are falling which has ruled out some streams of funding.

Years ago, falling numbers meant classes were removed at Revoe, Claremont and Thames primary schools.

But as need grows, increasing the size of the schools again is not the solution to helping to drive up achievement according to Mr Lund.

Building work has started at Mereside Primary School to provide an extra form of entry.

Two forms have also been created at Unity College in North Shore but when the Government’s Building Schools for the Future programme collapsed in June, their hopes for a new primary building were dashed.

Now younger pupils are being housed in temporary cabin-style classrooms, which see toilets freeze in winter.

Unity staff are desperately looking for ways to access extra funding so new facilities can be built on the site.

Headteacher Barbara Lund said: “We were disappointed when the Building Schools for the Future funding collapsed.

“We continue to work in partnership with the local authority to develop strategic plans which require capital investment.

“The temporary classrooms are not a long term solution, but they are of an excellent standard and do not impact on the quality of teaching and learning for our students.

“Unity now takes children right from birth to 16 and this is not only innovative, but proving exceptionally popular with young people in Blackpool,

“What we’re looking for is school buildings which will match our high aspirations and unique, innovative curriculum.”