Council acts to deal with school places shortage

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MORE than 3,500 school places have been created in Sheffield in four years as education chiefs tackle a huge rise in demand.

This month the city council increased capacity at three schools.

Oughtibridge Primary is set to take on 60 children per year, 15 more than it does currently, starting with the reception class in September next year, while Becton Hospital School in Beighton, which caters for 11 to 18-year-olds, while begin taking children from the age of five from the same date.

Special needs school Rowan Primary, which specialises in teaching children with complex speech, language and communication difficulties, will increase by 22 places to 90 overall from the start of the next school year.

The rate of youngsters who get into their parents’ preferred school is currently 88 per cent, but education chiefs warn this will fall unless capacity increases.

A Sheffield City Council spokesman said: “We know that making sure children are able to access a school place that meets their needs, including good local primary schools in their community, ensures their education gets off to the best possible start.

“We have created 3,500 places to date with the latest places offered at the Fir Vale and Watermead Oasis Academies this month. Despite the increase in demand for places we have continued to offer around 88 per cent of families their first choice of primary school with a further eight per cent offered their second or third choice.”

There are also proposals to build a new primary school in the urban suburb of Tinsley. Analysis of birth rates and population statistics show an additional 15 places in each year group will be needed from next September, which the current infant and junior schools cannot accommodate. Work on the Tinsley proposal is ongoing and we are looking at positive solutions to the issues raised by the community.”