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Cambridgeshire needs hundreds more school places

By Gemma Gardner

Stephen Munday
Stephen Munday

A report from Scape Group, the public sector-owned built environment specialist, found that a total of 357 classrooms or 38 new schools must be built in county before 2020.

Hundreds of additional classrooms need to be built in Cambridgeshire to meet the growing demand for school places, new research has found.

A report from Scape Group, the public sector-owned built environment specialist, found that a total of 357 classrooms or 38 new schools must be built in county before 2020. Of these, 34 would be primary schools and four secondary.

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape Group, said: “The country will soon start to feel the full weight of the impending boom in pupil numbers, and we’re already seeing unprecedented pressure on school places. A radical new wave of school-building must be a top priority for government.”

Nationally, local authorities are estimating there will be an additional 729,000 primary and secondary school pupils by 2020, based on Department of Education statistics.

The number of primary school pupils in England will rise 8.6 per cent by 2020, but the greatest growth will come from secondary school pupils, set to increase 12 per cent rise by 2020.

The rise in pupil numbers will require many more schools to be built across the country, with a surge in primary pupils beginning to move into secondary schools.

Across England, local authorities will have to find space for the equivalent of 12,209 additional primary classrooms, which equates to 1,744 single form entry primary schools. A further 12,078 secondary classrooms or 378 new secondary schools will be needed to match the rising numbers.

The Cam Academy Trust, which runs Cambourne Village College, Comberton Village College and Melbourn Village College, is currently working with Cambridgeshire County Council to develop provision for two new primary schools and a secondary school as part of the necessary social infrastructure at the proposed Cambourne West development.

Cambourne West is a plan by Bovis and Wimpey for 2,350 new homes from 2019 adjacent to the existing Cambourne villages on land between the A428 and the A1198.

The trust is also looking at ways of offering a primary equivalent of The Cabin at Comberton Village College, which currently supports up to 40 students on the Autistic Spectrum.

Stephen Munday, chief executive of The Cam Academy Trust, said: “There will certainly be a need for more new schools and, under current government regulations, these will need to be free schools. “Local trusts who can run these new schools really well will be crucial to high-quality school expansion that we will need.”

Mr Robinson added: “In a post-Brexit economy, with all of the uncertainty this brings, the construction of new schools must be a top priority for government and local authorities must be given the tools and funding necessary to deliver extra places in time.

“Creative solutions including standardised design, classroom extensions and larger ‘super-schools’, as well as more effective use of land to deliver mixed-use developments, are all options we need to look at to deliver more new schools.”


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