Redbridge schools ‘bursting at the seams’

Thursday, January 10, 2013
9.00 AM

Hundreds more school places have been given the green light as council education chiefs try to keep up with the borough’s bulging population.

Last year 14 primary schools increased their pupil intake with a further three schools now being considered for expansion.

Secondary schools Woodbridge High and Mayfield are to get an additional six forms of entry between them leading to concerns of overcrowding.

Cllr Alan Weinberg, cabinet member for children’s services, said he does not believe larger schools will be detrimental to the quality of education.

He added: “What’s being proposed will in no way impact the quality of education of the pupils. Expansion will probably continue while there is space available to do so. Less external space per pupil is inevitable.”

Under proposals Mayfield School, Pedley Road, Goodmayes will get an extra four forms of entry and Woodbridge High, St Barnabas Road, Woodford Green two more.

The move follows Beal High, Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge which was given the go-ahead in November for an additional 840 pupils.

Bob Archer, president of Redbridge National Union of Teachers, said the government needs to provide more money and make more land available, instead of expanding schools.

“People are battering the door to get their children in schools,” he said. “It’s bursting at the seams. It’s really a problem of resources, there needs to be new builds and the sites have to be made available.”

Speaking at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday about the proposed expansion to Woodbridge High, Cllr Gwyneth Deakins said: “I’m aware of the desperate need for school places. I have been contacted by staff who say managing the large number of pupils on the site during fire drills is already particularly concerning.”

Jeremy Clifton, assistant headteacher of Woodbridge High School, said possibilities for accommodating the additional pupils includes staggered lunch and home times.

He added: “Clearly with any expansion and new development you will have concerns to address. By being a large school we can provide a broader curriculum and recruit more staff and even better facilities.”