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Challenge to find 10,000 extra primary school places
THE school year may be over for 150,000 pupils in Hampshire, but Hampshire County Council bosses continue trying to figure out how to accommodate an extra 10,000 pupils in the next five years.
The extra primary school places needed is the focus of the council’s draft School Places Plan for 2012 to 2016.
It is now under revision following widespread consultation.
New information from the Census shows a seven per cent increase in the under-fives population, rising to 77,300, which is in line with the council’s own forecasts.
Councillor Roy Perry, executive lead member for children’s services, will make a final decision on the plan in the autumn.
He said: “School place planning is a complex calculation, relying not just on rising birth rates, but housing growth and parental preferences putting pressure on availability. Another factor and one of the hardest for us to predict, is population movement.
“The nature and pace of these developments is also testing Hampshire County Council’s forecasting models, especially as it seems parts of Hampshire are increasingly attractive for young families to move to. To make it even harder for the planners, forecasts of growth are not uniform across the county.”
Long-term forecasts show the need for 9,450 extra primary places during the next five years, which is the equivalent to around 20 new primary schools and two new secondary schools in the next 10 years.
Cllr Perry said £200million would be needed to meet this demand, adding: “That’s why I’m giving Government a loud and clear message that more money will be needed to help us cope with this growth in pupil numbers.”
The council is already continuing to expand and improve schools in Hampshire as part of one of the biggest ever capital programmes since the 1990s. A £1.6million project was approved at Bramley CE Primary School, to create an extra five classrooms.