Expansion bid for Swiss Gardens Primary School submitted

DM16119367a.jpg Swiss Gardens Primary School, Shoreham. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160523-201554008
DM16119367a.jpg Swiss Gardens Primary School, Shoreham. Photo by Derek Martin SUS-160523-201554008

Proposals to expand a Shoreham primary school at the centre of a controversy over pupil places has been submitted.

West Sussex County Council has lodged a planning application for a modular building containing two new classrooms to cater for 30 children each, toilets, and storage facilities.

The unit is set to be installed on the school site during the summer break due to the ‘rapid rise of pupil numbers and the need for further space for general teaching’.

According to the application, the new building, made from a galvanised steel frame, will be delivered and bolted together on site with one day needed for delivery, and four weeks for preparations, connecting services, and fitting out the unit.

Parents at Swiss Gardens have previously been highly critical of the way communication of the school’s expansion was handled by the county council.

The school currently has two classes in each year, but this September’s reception intake will be three classes and it is not yet clear whether subsequent intakes will be three classes or return to two.

At a meeting back in May, parent Chris Betterton described the communication as ‘woeful’, while Caroline Lawrence started a petition to stop the school becoming a permanent three-form entry school, citing a lack of space on the constrained school site.

In a statement back in April headteacher Lawrence Caughlin and chairman of governors Lynne Hamilton Pearson said: “We are told by the local authority that this is a one-year plan and we are not aware of their intentions beyond that. We received communication directing us to take extra children during the Easter holidays.

“We had no plans to expand pupil numbers at Swiss Gardens but we will be welcoming our new children and families to the school.”

Meanwhile a county council spokesman said in May: “We know how important school admissions are and try our hardest to meet parents’ preferences in line with statutory guidance. We have been able to do this at Swiss Gardens by adding the extra class.

“There have been 460 pupil admissions in Shoreham which could not have been placed in the area without adding this extra class. 87 children have been placed at Swiss Gardens which will be broken into three separate classes.

“Several other schools have already been expanded and still provide a good quality of education. We are currently looking at all options available to meet the demand in future years.”

To comment visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/planning using code WSCC/046/16/SU.

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