Luton primary schools set to expand as decision day nears

A currently unused piece of land next to Wigmore Primary School has been allocated for an expansion to Richmond Hill
A currently unused piece of land next to Wigmore Primary School has been allocated for an expansion to Richmond Hill

The £6.75 million expansion of two primary schools struggling to cope with increasing demand on places is set to be agreed.

On Monday Luton Borough Council’s executive will decide whether on not to go ahead with plans for the rapid expansion of Richmond Hill and Wigmore Primary, a project which has been strongly recommended for approval.

Under the scheme a £5 million two storey building would be built on Wigmore’s Twyford Drive site for Richmond Hill, which would allow the latter to take its capacity from 120 to 230 places.

Wigmore Primary would also undergo a £1.75 million single storey extension, paving the way for nine additional classrooms and other facilities.

If agreed, both developments are set to be in place for September 2016.

As things stand Wigmore’s reception and Year 1 groups are full to the brim, while there are “only one or two spaces available” in three other intakes.

Its capacity would be boosted from 450 to 630 places under the proposal.

Richmond Hill, which caters for students aged 4-11 with learning difficulties, has seen its numbers increase by 61% in the last five years.

LBC admissions & planning manager Deborah Craig has said that the proposal would benefit both schools.

In a report to councillors she wrote: “The adjacency to Wigmore Primary School has the advantage of increasing opportunities for pupils from the special school to integrate with mainstream pupils (and vice versa) and for both schools to have the opportunity to share resources.

“Pupils from across the borough already attend Richmond Hill and the vast majority are transported to and fromschool.

“Placing pupils on another site is, therefore, very unlikely to have an impact on either the pupils– as they will be travelling to school across the borough anyway–or the transport budget.”

The expected green light comes just a week after Ofsted revealed that Richmond Hill has retained its ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating.

In a report published on Friday headteacher Jill Miller was praised for her “enthusiasm and vision”, while teachers were said to handle pupil behaviour “exceptionally well”.

The report added: “There is a very welcoming, calm, purposeful atmosphere throughout the school.

“Staff have very high expectations of learning and behaviour and pupils respond extremely positively.

“They have excellent attitudes to learning and are happy, engaged and eager to please.”

Mrs Miller told the Luton News that she is “very proud” of the achievement.

She said: “It is well deserved, we are going from strength to strength and I am very proud of the teamwork from all of the staff.

“We are now looking to see how we can do things even better.”

Mrs Miller added: “It will be good to have purpose built facilities and also to be in close proximity to a mainstream school we can work with in the future.”