School expansion plans in pipeline as population grows

Lancaster Road School.
Lancaster Road School.

A consultation is to be held on plans to expand a Morecambe primary school to meet the needs of the resort’s growing population.

Lancaster Road Primary School could expand by 30 places if the proposals are given the go ahead.

An increase in the number of births in the Morecambe and Heysham area, as well as increased housing development in the district, means that, as local children reach statutory school age, there may not be sufficient places in the area to meet the demand for September 2015 and beyond.

This need is for permanent places from 2015, followed by a need for additional temporary places for 2016 only.

Additional places were provided across three primary schools in the area in 2012.

In January 2014 there were 4,226 primary age children on roll in Morecambe and Heysham, of a net capacity of 4,725.

Of these, 675 were reception places.

However, in 2015 it is forecast that 681 reception places are needed, which then jumps to 764 in 2016 and 693 in 2017.

While the demand for places is expected to fluctuate dramatically over the next three years, there is expected to be a permanent need for an additional form of entry places in the area, as there are more than 600 new houses expected to be built in the area over the next five years.

Therefore, it is proposed that the additional places required for 2015 be provided by increasing the number of children admitted to Reception year at Lancaster Road Primary School from 60 to 90.

In order to allow an increase in the reception intake for September 2015, the cabinet member for children, young people and schools Matthew Tomlinson has approved a formal consultation on the plans.

The consultation process will involve a document for the area, available in printed form and online with opportunities to respond in writing or online.

There will also be an open event for parents, staff and other members of the public to attend to ask questions of council officers and put forward their views.

This will be attended by county council officers and will be in the form of a ‘surgery style’ event, where people can talk to officers on a one to one basis.

Should the temporary expansion of the school be approved the school would receive revenue funding assistance for one year to reflect the fact that pupils would begin two terms before the increased numbers are reflected in the school budget.

This funding will be provided through the Dedicated Schools Grant in accordance with the rules agreed by the Lancashire Schools Forum.

This will ensure that the school is not financially disadvantaged by the expansion.