Councillors call for action over chronic lack of school places in Warwickshire
A chronic lack of school places, particularly within Warwickshire’s secondary schools, has prompted calls for a change in how demand is calculated
Figures released by the county council show major shortfalls with some areas expected to need hundreds of extra places over the next five years.
And while the situation at the county’s primary schools is not as bad, there are calls to open up empty classrooms at a new school in Nuneaton to help meet demand that has seen parents having to send their children to different schools around the town.
Cllr Colin Hayfield (Con, Coleshill South and Arley) outlined the bleak situation at this week’s (November 12) cabinet meeting of Warwickshire County Council.
He said: “There is a mixed picture when it comes to primary with capacity in some areas and less so in others. Secondary schools are all, more or less, facing pressures.”
The figures show that Atherstone will need to increase Year 7 places by 59 per cent if they are to meet the demand over the next five years with 190 children forecast for just 120 spaces. Secondary school shortages are also expected in Nuneaton, Rugby, Warwick, Leamington, Alcester, Shipston and Stratford while other areas are teetering on the edge.
North Warwickshire’s Cllr Dave Parsons (Lab, Polesworth) said: “What we need is a longer overview for educational planning - the local plans and educational plans need to be brought much more in line with each other.”
And Rugby-based Cllr Jerry Roodhouse (Lib Dem, Eastlands) added: “I have to question whether the formula and mechanisms we are actually using are robust enough.
"Perhaps we need to think of a better way of doing this.”
The cabinet meeting also heard from a Nuneaton parent whose two children were forced to attend different schools on either side of the town.
Zoe Holynska said: “It has placed a great strain on our family to have two drop-offs and pick-ups on different sides of the town with frequent traffic congestion to exacerbate the situation.
“We cannot afford wraparound care and that often results in having no other option but to drop one child off late and collect one early meaning that valuable school time is being missed by both children. As I’m sure you will agree, that's not fair on any child because it is likely to have a long-term detrimental impact on their learning.”
She said the situation was likely to worsen with extra housing being built in the area and asked that extra classrooms at the new Lower Farm Academy be opened up to deal with the extra pupils.
She added: “Classrooms will be standing unused which is appalling when you consider the demand and the impact it is having on so many in the area.”