Future shortfall of Year R places prompt county action

6:30pm Tuesday 5th February 2013

By Emily Roberts

THERE could be a shortfall of 167 places for Year R pupils in Basingstoke and Deane by 2015, according to Hampshire County Council.

The council has published its framework and analysis for school places over the next four years. It shows that births in the borough have risen by 28 per cent since 2002, from 1,855 to 2,367 last year – the second largest increase in the county, behind Eastleigh.

Based on this continuing trend, the council has predicted birth numbers up until 2018, which suggests a peak in Hampshire in 2014.

The birth rate, combined with housing developments, has led to a number of areas, including Basingstoke, suffering pressure on school places.

While primary schools will suffer a shortage of places, secondary schools in Basingstoke and Deane are forecast to have surplus places in the next four years, with the knock-on effect of the birth rise not being felt until 2016-17.

In order to meet the demand for primary school places, the county council is providing additional places at a number of schools in the borough, including Bramley Primary School, Overton Primary School, Merton Infant School, in Popley, and Burnham Copse Primary School, in Tadley.

A report on school places said: “In each case, additional places will be provided in future years.”

The council has planned to resolve the problem by creating more places at various schools in Basingstoke and Deane.

Subject to consultation, Merton Infant and Junior schools, in Popley, will expand by 90 places, with permanent facilities for September 2015, to respond to the need for extra places arising from the Merton Rise housing development. Park View Infant and Junior schools, in South Ham, will expand by 210 places, with the infant school able to provide 90 places for Year R pupils from September this year.

Extra primary school places will be provided in Chineham, in response to expected additional demand created by 500 new dwellings at Razor’s Farm. Discussions are taking place with local schools on how to provide those extra places.

In Rooksdown, the council plans to provide 420 primary places by September 2015. The report does not specify how this will be achieved, but the council has stated in the past that it hopes to build a new school in the area.

At his decision day meeting, Councillor Roy Perry approved the framework and process for the planning of, and consultation on, the provision of school places in Hampshire. He said: “The county has a planned investment programme of £161million over the next three years, subject to receipt of future Government grants and developers’ contributions.”

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