Work to expand three Redbridge primary schools by 630 places to begin next month

Building work to expand three Redbridge primary schools to create room for 630 extra pupils will start next month.

Redbridge Council is paying construction firm ISG an estimated £5.4million for the work.

Chadwell Primary School, in High Road, Chadwell Heath; Barley Lane Primary School, in Huxley Drive, Goodmayes, and Downshall Primary School, in Meads Lane, Seven Kings, will add 210 places each.

Each school will have a new two-storey, 8,600sq ft classroom block and increase its intake by one form.

Barley Lane will have space for a maximum of 840 children and Chadwell and Downshall will have space for 630 each.

The work is scheduled to be completed ready for the start of the new academic year in September.

The council’s cabinet approved the project in December, emphasising the need for more primary school places across the borough.

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Consultation respondents were mostly in favour of the expansions but concerns were raised for all three schools.

Shared worries included traffic and congestion issues, overcrowding, a loss of outdoor space and a drop in “standards and facilities in large schools”.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Alan Weinberg, expects demand for primary schools places in Redbridge to continue increasing. He said: “To build new schools you need land and if you look at Redbridge, we don’t have an abundance of available land.

“When you have a school that’s operating well, why not expand rather than hunting for another site?”

He added that measures to cope with increased traffic would be introduced and he was not aware of evidence that standards drop in larger schools.

Deputy headteacher of Downshall Primary Naheed Bashir said children, staff and parents were looking forward to the expansion.

She added: “We are keen to welcome more pupils and are assured that the places will start to fill up rapidly.

“Historically there has been, and still is, a big waiting list of pupils, particularly the siblings of our current cohort of pupils.”

A 630-place primary will open on the site of the former Ilford Baths, High Road, in September, 2014.