Classrooms to be built on playing field to cope with bulge class at Croydon school
TEMPORARY classrooms will be built on top of a playing field as part of the latest plan to address a shortage of reception places in Croydon.
Pupils at Howard Primary, in South Croydon, will return from their Christmas break to prefabricated buildings on the field where they play at break times.
Head teacher John Robinson admitted the loss of half the already tiny field for 18 months was "not the greatest thing" but said it was necessary if the school was to help create extra places.
"To gain we have to have a bit of pain," he told the Advertiser.
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Howard Primary, in Dering Place, will take a bulge class of 30 extra pupils next month before being permanently expanded next September.
It is among five schools which will take an additional reception class next year as part of the council's attempt to create hundreds of extra reception places by 2015. Howard's temporary classrooms will be in use until a new building is finished in 18 months' time.
Mr Robinson said: "Everyone has agreed this is the right way forward because we can now support a wider selection of our community.
"Some of the space will be turned into a playground for the reception class, so we are losing some playing field but gaining a play area."
Kathy Bee, Labour's education spokesman, said the choice between playing space and catering for more pupils is a relatively easy one to make.
"Temporarily sacrificing playing fields is not ideal but children going without a place at school is unacceptable," she explained.
Mr Robinson is adamant permanent expansion is the best option for the long term future of the school.
He said: "Each year we have more than 300 applications for 30 reception places.
"That's a lot of children who have to go to other places, often travelling further away."
The other schools which will be permanently expanded in September are; Parish Church CofE Infants and Junior School, Downsview Primary, Forestdale Primary, and Norbury Manor.
There are already extra reception classes in place at 13 schools, as well as bulge Year 1 classes at Purley Oaks and Winterbourne Nursery and Infant School.
The expansions were approved at a Croydon Council cabinet meeting on Monday, during which councillors also rubber stamped the creation of two special educational needs bases at Chipstead Valley Primary and Fairchildes Primary.
Winterbourne Boys' Junior School - the only all-male state junior in the country – could close as part of a renewed attempt to address Croydon’s school place shortfall.
The plan was put forward in a hastily written addendum to a education paper put before last Monday's cabinet meeting.
It said that governors of the boys' school and Winterbourne Nursery and Infant School wish to consult the public over amalgamating to become an all-through primary from September 2013.
While the new school, in Thornton Heath, would continue to admit 150 pupils a year at reception level its junior site would increase to three forms of entry, creating an extra class at Key Stage 2.
Winterbourne Girls' has opted out of the proposals which have the backing of the head teachers of the boys’ and infants schools.
The paper was so quickly written that it erroneously stated that governors of Woodside Junior School were involved.
No schools involved were prepared to comment on the plans.
The council has approved plans to open a secondary school specialising in sports in the hope of creating an Olympic legacy in Croydon.
A proposal for a six forms of entry school at the sports and science specialist school across the Croydon Arena and Croydon Adult Learning and Training (CALAT) centre sites in South Norwood was discussed at Monday’s cabinet meeting.
Councillors supported the idea, which rests on whether the London Assembly would grant permission for the green site to be used as a school. The council believes the option stands a good chance of being approved as it complements the existing sports facilities.