School expansion plans approved

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Three schools in Luton are set to expand to meet growing demand for school places in the town.

Stopsley High School, Stopsley Primary School and Farley Junior School were all approved for enlargement by the council’s Executive Committee last night., subject to planning permission.

Funding for the expansions will come from the Department for Education.

It is estimated that in the next six years there will be a 17 per cent growth in student numbers, with a 24 per cent increase in demand for the popular Stopsley High School in St Thomas’ Road.

Stopsley High School is included in the government’s Priority School Building Programme (PSBP), and the £15m expansion will increase student places from 990 to 1350 over five years.

Parents, staff, students and local residents were asked their views on the proposals before they were agreed by the council.

One person said: “I think it is a great idea, the school is successful and popular and there is a need for more places in the secondary sector.”

Another said: “The school needs expanding, there is not enough space within the school as it is.”

As part of the expansion a new school will be built on the existing site, which will include 64 classrooms, a four court sports hall, creative and music spaces and Special Education Needs provision.

There were concerns about increased traffic in the area, and one parent said:“I don’t want my child to be lost in a big school. If it gets too big then she could easily be invisible.”

Others were in favour of the expansion and suggested a sixth form would be beneficial too.

One respondent said: “This is a brilliant school, it is only right that more students in the area desrve a chance of the best possible education.”

The primary school population is also expected to grow - by 3725 pupils between 2011 and 2016 - a 19 per cent growth within five years.

Under the expansion plans, capacity at Stopsley Primary School in Hitchin Road will increase from 420 places to 630 places, and capacity at Farley Junior School in Northdrift Drive will increase from 256 places to 360 places.