New homes sees schools growth

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Biggleswade, Arlesey and Fairfield are set to see a rapid growth in the area’s schools.

The move is to accommodate more children from the newly built and planned housing developments cropping up in the area.

Consultations have now gone out to parents at Biggleswade Academy Trust, St Andrews CofE Lower School and Etonbury Academy in Arlesey over the schemes.

The Academy and St Andrews plan to each increase school intake by a total of 150 pupils by September 2017.

Etonbury plans to expand by a total of 360 pupils by September 2017.

All the intakes will be spread across each school’s year groups.

At its Executive meeting on Tuesday Central Beds Council agreed to support the consultations.

A report to the Executive said: “The anticipated rate of growth in the town’s lower school year groups is also such that a new standalong schoolmwould not fill and be revenue efficient for a number of years. The solution to manage the further growth in places is therefore through the expansion of existing schools.”

Lawnside Lower was ruled out for expansion because of its restricted and landlocked site.

Plans to create an extra 300 lower school places in Fairfield have also been approved.

Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive have given the green light to double the amount of places offered at Fairfield Park Lower by expanding the school onto a second site.

The decision follows a four-week public consultation carried out by the school with the council’s support, which ended last month.

It means that the outstanding lower school will increase from two-form to four-form entry, eventually offering 600 places for children aged three to nine as well as a 60-place nursery.

The initial intake of additional children to the new site will commence in September 2017 with numbers gradually rising to meet demand from extra homes being built in the area.

The school has already agreed to take additional children on its existing site for September 2016 in the form of a bulge class to meet local need.

Subject to planning permission being granted, the new site will be built on what is currently farmland west of Stotfold Road.

Councillor Mark Versallion, Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “I am very grateful to everyone who had their say on the proposed expansion plans and who attended the public event to find out more information. There was clear public support for the new school site, so I am delighted that members have agreed to expand Fairfield Park Lower.

“The amount of new homes planned for and currently being built in nearby Stotfold shows just what a popular place the area is to live with families, and that is why we are acting now to ensure that there are sufficient places to allow children to attend an outstanding lower school on their doorstep.”