Parents step up their campaign to tackle school overcrowding

Parent campaigners are stepping up pressure to tackle overcrowding at a flagship primary school in Hull.

Matthew and Lynne Daubney say Victoria Dock Primary School is bursting at the seams, with children having to be taught in what were the library and ICT rooms.

The school has proved popular since opening on Victoria Dock in 1999 as the country's first privately financed school and has already been extended twice.

But it is oversubscribed and campaigners say more children than the school can cope with are lining up to join in September.

A group called Supporters of Victoria Dock Primary School believe its SATs results could be jeopardised by larger classrooms, and in the longer-term an overcrowded school will make it more difficult to attract people to come and live in the area.

They think the school, which is rated as "good with some outstanding features" by Ofsted, should be extended by an extra 90 places.

To raise support they have written to every home on Victoria Dock and set up a campaign website, with an online petition which will be presented to Hull Council on February 2.

The Daubneys, who live on the estate, were among seven parents who had to go to appeal last year to get their five-year-old daughter Isobel into the school. Although they all succeeded, they say they want to prevent other families going through the same trauma.

Mr Daubney said: "As a community Victoria Dock is incredibly fortunate to have such an impressive and well managed school right on its doorstep.

"The residents find the facility welcoming and friendly, but more importantly the school has a fantastic reputation in Hull and is the first choice for parents and children.

"With the school having to use the library and ICT rooms as makeshift classrooms and numbers now set to exceed 30 in a classroom we strongly believe that something must be done to protect the quality of education that the children in Victoria Dock Primary School are receiving and will receive in future years.

"Doing nothing is not an option. Hull Council must seriously consider extending Victoria Dock Primary School to accommodate the numbers on the waiting list and the certainty of future increases in the number of parents wanting to send their children to the school."

The school's headteacher Denham Kite said they were seeking a solution to the problem with the local authority. He said there were two options – either tightening up on admissions or an extension.

He said: "The parents are very passionate and want the best for the school and children here and it is great to have their enthusiasm. It's not an easy one.

"We have a dilemma of where something needs to happen – whether it is admissions or more room."

Hull City Council's head of learning, participation and skills Judith Harwood said there had been no conclusion to talks and she was "hugely sympathetic" to parents.

The problem was if Victoria Dock got larger it could mean surplus places having to be reduced at other schools within the catchment – a situation that other parents may object to. There was also the question of finding money for an expansion at an "extremely difficult" time.

She said: "There's a question of money but there's a much bigger question – by law I have to ensure there are sufficient primary school places in the city. I'm not allowed to make too many. If we get to a point where there are surplus places you have to make difficult decisions about closing schools. There are spaces at primary schools within the catchment of Victoria Dock."

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Former docks site prospering

Since Victoria Dock was developed as a residential area in 1988 on the site of an abandoned dock, its population and the popularity of the local school has continued to grow.

Victoria Dock Primary School has already been extended twice – raising the capacity from 60 to 120 in 2001 and two years later doubling the figure again to its current level of 240 pupils with 26 nursery spaces.