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School cash fears as pupil numbers grow

PUBLISHED: 10:57 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 11:32 12 August 2010

CHILDREN will miss out on vital funding as three schools are set to increase their intake, says a council boss.

CHILDREN will miss out on vital funding as three schools are set to increase their intake, says a council boss.

Bickley Primary, Nightingale Lane, and Unicorn Primary, in Creswell Drive, will both double in size after adding an extra reception class in 2011, while Princes Plain Primary, Church Lane, will increase its intake from 45 to 60 pupils, it was announced on Monday.

The significant expansion comes as Bromley council's portfolio holder for Children and Young People, Ernest Noad, says that improvements at other schools will suffer as vital funds are directed to develop the three chosen primary schools.

Mr Noad said: "This is a response to the demographic change in central Bromley, driven largely by immigration.

"The government requires us to have three-and-a-half new forms of entry but we have no additional funding so we have to find the money ourselves."

Although Bromley council has received a grant of £9million to fund building improvements at schools across the borough, this money must now be earmarked for new buildings at the three chosen schools.

Another school, Churchfields Primary, Churchfields Road, will receive a so-called bulge year, taking an extra form of entry for only one year in 2011, before a re-evaluation of needs.

Jen Mayhew, Headteacher at Bickley Primary School, which will eventually double in size, said: "There are many advantages to becoming 2FE (two form entry) in terms of increased staffing and their expertise and better facilities providing greater opportunities for the children and their families."

She added: "The school is working closely with the Local Authority in the building expansion to ensure our needs are met and continues to work with the governing body, parents and children, seeking their ideas about how the school can continue to grow in its aims to become a centre of excellence for learning and teaching with a strong sense of community."

Mr Noad added: "It is good that we can expand the schools but finding the funding is a constant problem.

"The immigration policy is driven by central government, but it is local communities which have to pick up the bill."

tim.dickens@archant.co.uk

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