Bursting Laindon schools want to expand

Basildon Recorder: Smaller classes – Cristina Portoles, headteacher of Laindon Park Primary School Smaller classes – Cristina Portoles, headteacher of Laindon Park Primary School

BOOMING Laindon schools are expanding to cope with growing pupil numbers.

Headteachers have said parents are battling it out to get their children into the best schools in the area thanks to more choice.

Laindon Park Primary School, in Church Hill, Laindon, wants to build a single-storey extension to create three new rooms.

One would be an overflow classroom, while the other two would be activity rooms during term time and be hired to community groups in the evenings and holidays.

The proposals come three months after nearby Lee Chapel School, in The Knares, won its long-term battle to expand.

Work has begun to transform the former infant school in its grounds, recently used as offices by Essex County Council, back into classrooms.

Lee Chapel, which has 508 pupils, is so overcrowded temporary classrooms have been installed in the playground and every available space has been used for teaching, including the staff room and a space under the stairs.

Laindon Park, which has 170 pupils in its nursery and primary school, launched a fundraising campaign to expand after average class numbers rose from 20 to 30 pupils.

Headteacher Cristina Portoles said: “The school has become very popular and we have found the classroom sizes growing up to 30, which is fine, but we like to have a smaller class size, which is much better for the children and their education.

“Parents like the character of a small school because it means we knowthe families well. The school is also set in a lovely Victorian building.

“We have wanted to expand for a while and have been able to get together enough funds to go ahead with it. Hiring the community rooms out could also bring us a bit of extra money.”

If Essex County Council and Basildon Council give the plans the go-ahead, the extension could be finished in time for the start of the next school year in September.

Mrs Portoles does not think there is a school space crisis , but believes pupils are not evenly spread out.

She added: “Some schools are very full, but other schools have spaces. It all comes down to more parental choice now.”

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