School expansion plan ‘reflection of success’

Maureen Fairhead, Cradle Hill School
Maureen Fairhead, Cradle Hill School

Plans to expand a primary school have been put out to public consultation.

If the expansion is approved, Cradle Hill School, in Seaford, will see its numbers swell by 210 pupils from September.

Headteacher Maurren Fairhead said a rise in the area’s birth rate had led to a need for more school places, with a significant ongoing shortfall of Reception places forecast in the town.

In September 2015, Cradle Hill had to erect a temporary double classroom to house an extra intake of children.

Mrs Fairhead said: “While this is working well, rather than have further temporary solutions, we would prefer to have a permanent build with the additional facilities that this would bring.”

The consultation will run until Friday February 26 before Councillor Nick Bennett, lead member for children’s services, decides whether or not to continue with the proposal to expand.

Even if full approval is given, building would not begin until the autumn, so the temporary classrooms at Cradle Hill would still be used until that work was complete.

The building work would be funded by East Sussex County Council’s capital programme and should be complete by summer 2017.

Cradle Hill School, in Lexden Road currently has capacity for 420 children aged from 4-11 years – 60 in each year group. The proposals would increase this to 630 places – 90 in each year group – and would mean an extra seven classrooms would have to be built.

The money to pay for the project would come from East Sussex County Council’s capital programme.

Fiona Wright, assistant director for education, said: “Higher birth rates and expected housing development in the town is predicted to create a shortage of primary school places in the future.

“East Sussex County Council plans years in advance to ensure that every child is offered a suitable place at a primary school and these proposals are a result of that planning process.”

The birth rate in Seaford rose from 167 in the academic year 2006/07 to 214 in 2010/11 and 216 in 2012/13. When it came to housing, the emerging Lewes District Local Plan Joint Core Strategy provided for approximately 600 new homes in the town before 2030. 

Should Mr Bennett decide to continue with the proposal, a Statutory Notice would be published in the spring followed by a further four-week consultation.

Mrs Fairhead said: “I suppose this is a reflection of our success, as Cradle Hill is a very popular school with a good reputation.  

“Please be assured that we are determined to do the very best we can for our children at all times whatever the outcome of the proposal.”

To have your say on the proposal to expand Cradle Hill School, log on to https://consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk .

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