School places: Special report highlights “unprecedented” demand on places in Thurrock

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THURROCK Council is facing an “unprecedented” demand for school places and will have to spend more than £3million to ensure there are enough for 2019.

Details of the investment has been revealed in a council report that calls on council leaders to approve a £2.2million budget for the expansion of Benyon Primary School in South Ockendon and an extra £1million for the construction of new classrooms in secondary schools.

The cost of £2.2million for the expansion of Benyon is expected to create 180 extra school places and cover the cost of “an architect led multidisciplinary design team” as well as the cost of a building contractor for the construction.

The report states that the £1million spent on secondary is for creating new permanent classrooms that will allow schools to take on additional pupils.

However, it does not include details of which schools will be expanded or how many school places will be created.

“This will enable the local authority to meet its statutory duty and ensure that every child who has applied for a school place will have one on 1 March 2019 – National Offer day for secondary schools” it says.

The need for extra places is being driven by large number of families moving to Thurrock from across the UK and from out of the country.

The report outlines how in 2017/18 there were 797 primary school admissions and 238 secondary admissions from children who had moved from elsewhere in the UK.

A further 143 primary and 107 secondary admission were from people who had moved into the borough from outside of the UK.

Data for admissions in September 2018 has not been included but the report adds “the demand does not appear to be slowing, and this level of demand is unprecedented”.

It comes just weeks after a plan to transform the Thurrock Rugby Club into a temporary school with 120 places by 2019 and double that by 2020 fell through due to a delay by the Department of Education.

In planning documents, South West Essex Community Education Trust, who was behind the rugby club scheme, said: “If every secondary school, currently open in the borough admits their full pupil admission number for 2019, there will be a minimum of 244 children with no offer of a school place in Thurrock. These are not projections, but real applications made for 2019 admissions.”

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