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Fight to provide more school places in Taunton Deane
Parents are worried that class sizes could rise and affect their children’s education, and head teachers fear over-subscribed schools are under further pressure from thousands of new homes being built.
The local education authority is spending £6.4million so no ‘rising fives’ are left without a reception place in 18 months, despite a National Audit Office report highlighting a “high risk” of up to 5% of youngsters in Taunton Deane not finding a primary school.
The report blames a ‘baby boom’ in England and Wales from 2001 to 2011 when the birth rate surged by 22% on the previous decade.
Laura Archibald, of South Road, Taunton, whose daughter, Emily, is due to start school in September, 2014, said: “I’m concerned about big class sizes as I want her to go to a school where she’s not in a big class and where she’ll get the teaching she needs.”
Creech St Michael Primary head teacher Jan McCarthy said: “We’re concerned about having enough places in the school to meet demand with all the houses going up in the area.”
A National Audit Office spokesman said 256,000 school places need to be provided across England and Wales by 2014-15, and added: “Though the Department for Education has increased its funding to local authorities and there has been a net increase of almost 81,500 primary school places in the past two years, there are indications of real strain on places.”
A county education spokesman said there is enough room for children starting school this September.
He said: “We’re aware of the picture the National Audit Office has published of likely pressure on primary school places in Taunton Deane in 2014.
“After the recent capital allocation from the Department for Education to the council, plans are in place to invest £6.4million in Somerset schools to meet additional demand over the next two years, and we’re confident that we’ll meet all demand in Taunton Deane.”