Head teacher hits out at "ridiculous" school plan as council vows to increase school places numbers

First published in News Thurrock Gazette: Matt Abbott by , Chief Reporter

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.

Comments (5)

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4:02pm Wed 12 Jun 13

rocket1 says...

the old hillside club sportsground or behind the old shant pub would be much better sites for a new school.
the old hillside club sportsground or behind the old shant pub would be much better sites for a new school. rocket1
  • Score: 0

11:29pm Wed 12 Jun 13

d_2da_ougle says...

i do see the blokes point if they have taken on pupils from outside the catchment area 2 schools of the same type do need to be spread out a bit the council should be looking at where most pupils are out of a catchment zone and building near by
i do see the blokes point if they have taken on pupils from outside the catchment area 2 schools of the same type do need to be spread out a bit the council should be looking at where most pupils are out of a catchment zone and building near by d_2da_ougle
  • Score: 0

9:51am Thu 13 Jun 13

ebagumtrebor says...

The last comment by the comrade should set alarm bells ringing everywhere. He thinks the idea is common sense. Run for the hills.
The last comment by the comrade should set alarm bells ringing everywhere. He thinks the idea is common sense. Run for the hills. ebagumtrebor
  • Score: 0

4:28pm Thu 13 Jun 13

Dave_ says...

You have to be totally incompetent to think that putting 2 schools (or anything) of the same type next to each other is a good idea. Oh wait a minute this is Thurrock Council, so we should expect nothing different.
You have to be totally incompetent to think that putting 2 schools (or anything) of the same type next to each other is a good idea. Oh wait a minute this is Thurrock Council, so we should expect nothing different. Dave_
  • Score: 0

3:42pm Sat 15 Jun 13

ardale lad says...

This is the same council that seems to think its a good idea to have kebab shops open till 1 in the morning in residential areas.Their idea of road maintainance is to build speed bumps and not ever resurface a road or change the one way system around grays again.
Residents are just cash cows just keep paying your council tax and have no say whatsoever.
This is the same council that seems to think its a good idea to have kebab shops open till 1 in the morning in residential areas.Their idea of road maintainance is to build speed bumps and not ever resurface a road or change the one way system around grays again. Residents are just cash cows just keep paying your council tax and have no say whatsoever. ardale lad
  • Score: 0

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