Stormy meeting hears of overcrowding at Carlisle schools
Last updated at 12:47, Thursday, 22 August 2013
Pupils had to spend some lessons in “freezing” corridors as the full extent of overcrowding at two Carlisle schools has been revealed.
And children living within two miles of Kingmoor Infant and Junior School could be denied places if expansion plans fail to get off the ground.
Around 75 parents, residents, councillors and staff packed into the junior school on Tuesday for an update on extension plans. Cumbria County Council revealed their plans to expand both schools, which are bursting at the seams.
Previous proposals were scrapped following concerns over traffic congestion, inconsiderate parking, and access for emergency services vehicles.
Council officials insisted the fears have been acted on, and although the actual expansion plans haven’t changed, other measures have been introduced. These include extra staff and visitor parking spaces, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle to and from school, a new crossing patrol for Kingstown Road, and assurances from emergency services that access won’t be compromised.
But during a stormy question and answer session, parents and residents revealed the scale of the problems they have encountered because of overcrowding. One woman claimed her son and others in his class had sat in “freezing” school corridors for some lessons as there wasn’t enough space in classrooms.
“I don’t think the school is coping as well as is being made out,” she said.
Andy Cairns, head of the junior school, said: “These plans are about providing facilities to give pupils an outstanding education. I won’t settle for second best and I’m confident the plans fit in with providing fantastic facilities.”
Cumbria County Council confirmed after the meeting that issues with lessons in corridors has now been temporarily resolved but the extension is needed to provide a long-term solution.
Other audience members highlighted concerns that ongoing housing developments, such as the Crindledyke Farm estate, will mean numbers will swell even further. Sean Reed, the county’s senior manager for property, said extra spaces at three nearby schools should be sufficient to cope.
Others suggested that plans to cap year group sizes at 75 pupils could cause problems if the local population grows further. But Mr Cairns assured them that this maximum figure would not be increased.
Another resident said the changes to the plans still don’t address the problems with people parking inconsiderately. Mr Reed, however, insisted that parking tickets would be issued in a bid to “change behaviour”.
And Zoe Turner, head of the infant school, said the schools would no longer be able to offer places to some children in the two-mile catchment area if the expansion fails to get approval.
“This year children are being taught in large class sizes and next year it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate additional numbers on top of those we already have,” she said.
Meanwhile, Nancy Turnbull from Active Travel described the success of schemes such as the Park and Stride and Walking Buses, with the number of children being driven to school down by 10 per cent.
The plans are due to be submitted to Carlisle City Council’s development control committee next week. There will be another public meeting on September 12.
First published at 12:36, Thursday, 22 August 2013
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
Have your say
@unhappy mum that's disgraceful! The people of this country deserve to be priority Imagine going to Australia and getting a place over an Australian child?! It would never happen. Good luck to you and I hope your child gets a place at a descent school!
My child was refused a place in our local school, yet the school is full of Eastern Europeans! How about giving priority to people that were born here?!!!!
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