ABOUT £73 million will be invested next year alone in the creation of new schools and the expansion of existing schools to meet the growing demand for classroom places.
Peterborough City Council in its budget for the financial year 2012/13 plans to spend £72.9 million to kickstart a range of school projects that will span five years, with total spending in that time topping £118 million.
In particular, the expansion programme is designed to boost the number of places in a primary school system that has come under increasing strain due to the city’s population boom.
Provided the budget plans come to fruition, it will create at least an extra 3,600 primary school places across the city, 800 of which will be earmarked for those in the PE1 postcode where demand is huge.
Included in the spending are the previously announced revamps and expansions of city secondary schools Stanground College and Nene Park Academy, formerly Orton Longueville School, as well as the re-opening of the former Hereward College as a “free school”.
But the Thomas Deacon Academy, off Park Crescent, will also see redevelopment, with the school for the first time taking on primary school pupils with the creation of a new building on the site.
Councillor John Holdich, the cabinet member for education, said: “We have got huge pressures particularly on our primary schools, especially in areas such as PE1 and Hampton, and this shows that we do have plans to address them.
“We will also be replacing a 105-year-old school at West Town as well as setting aside money to do maintenance on other schools and bring them up to standard.
“The money we spend will be a mixture of our own, government grants and borrowing.”
Among the schools to benefit from the expansion will be Eye Primary School, with villagers arguing for years now that the growth of Eye has put increasing strain on the primary school.
There will also be added special school places too, with an extra 30 being created at the Heltwate Special School in Bretton; while a further 90 places will be created at the new academy for autistic students being created at the former Hereward College.
Councillor Keith Sharp, representing the North Ward which covers part of the PE1 area, is relieved that steps are finally being taken to address the situation in his ward.
He said: “I think this has to happen. We have been blinkered over the years about this. It started with secondary schools and now it’s got to primary schools. We don’t want a situation where children can’t go to the school next door.
What do you think about the budget proposals? What would you change?
Projects planned in coming years
- Cash to provide 800 new places in the PE1/central areas, no sites yet identified.
- Beeches Primary to have extra 210 places by September.
- Welland Primary to have extra 210 places by September.
- Expansion of Eye Primary to create 84 new places.
- West Town Primary to be replaced, new school to have extra 105 places.
- New building at Thomas Deacon Academy will take on 360 primary pupils by Sept 2013.
- Revamp of existing schools to create 210 new primary places in Bretton.
- Revamp of existing schools in Ortons to create 260 new primary places.
- Two new classrooms at Abbotsmede Primary to bring 105 new places.
- Extra 30 places at Heltwate Special School in Bretton.
- Paston Ridings Primary to expand, brings 210 new places.
- 550 new secondary places at Hampton College through new buildings and gym.
- 210 new places at Discovery Primary through expansion.
- Expansion of Queens Drive primary bringing with it 60 new places.
More staff for children’s services
AN EXTRA 25 social workers will be taken on at a cost of £1.1 million a year to turn around the council’s struggling children’s services department.
The department was slammed in an Ofsted report which graded it “inadequate” last year in seven out of nine children safeguarding categories.
And the council has responded by pledging an extra £3 million on top of the existing £16.3 million budget to right the wrongs highlighted by the September report.
With £1.1 million going on extra social workers to reduce the caseloads of the existing workers, the rest will be used to meet the cost of the higher-than-expected demand for children’s social services, as well as some cash being set aside to cope with the future growth of population in the city.
It was revealed that the council had budgeted for a maximum of 300 “looked after” children in its budget 2011/12. However, the actual number currently in the care of the council exceeds 325.
New interim executive director for children’s services Malcolm Newsam has also set a target to reduce the number of children’s cases being investigated from 850 to 730.