Head teacher hits out at "ridiculous" school plan as council vows to increase school places numbers (From Thurrock Gazette)
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Head teacher hits out at "ridiculous" school plan as council vows to increase school places numbers
PLANS to build a new primary school on the old allotment sites at the top of Belmont Road in Grays have been met with opposition by a head teacher.
Mark Jones, head at Belmont Castle Academy, which is directly opposite the site suggested for an £11.3million, 630-pupil school.
A new school is being touted for the site as the current schools struggle to deal with a surge in the number of primary age pupils in the west Grays and Chafford Hundred areas.
But Mr Jones says this is not the right place for a new school, calling the idea “ridiculous“. He added the council have not been in touch at all.
He said: “It’s madness to build a school next to a school. It’s a ridiculous idea. This area doesn’t have the infrastructure. I’d be surprised if the residents let this happen because congestion will get worse.
“It’s not just bad on Parker Road, it’s all the roads. That situation is not going to get better. That land certainly isn’t a suitable place.”
He added: “We did have many more applications than we could offer places but they were out of catchment, they were parents deciding they wanted their children to come here. We took on an extra 30 children last year but we’ve nowhere to accommodate new children. Yet, putting a school next to a school does not make sense. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
At last week’s cabinet meeting, council leader and education portfolio holder John Kent welcomed the plans.
He said: “This has so many advantages locally and across the borough, it seems to me it has got to happen. We’re only being asked to agree a feasibility study at the moment, but to me it’s just common sense.
“Thurrock has among the highest percentages of young people in the country and this part of our borough has some real traffic congestion issues we can greatly ease these problems if we do this properly.”
The council has also announced it is to spend a further £10million on education in the borough. The authority’s cabinet approved £18million of funding to expand three schools in the area and build a new one in west Grays.
Formal consultations have been launched to expand Bonnygate Primary School in South Ockendon, Graham James Primary Academy in Stanford-Le-Hope and Purfleet Primary Academy following cabinet approval last Wednesday.
Bonnygate will get a £1.8million revamp which would increase its capacity to 420 pupils and staff with up to six new classes of 30, while works amounting to around £3.4million will see a new nursery school built and the capcity increased to 420 at Graham James Primary Academy.
An investment of just over £5million at Purfleet Primary Academy will see its capacity increased to 630 with up to three new classes per year group.
A funding shortfall of £7.5million means work earmarked to increase the number of places at Little Thurrock and Quarry Hill Primary Schools is on hold.
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