New schools will ease places crisis
PLANS to build four new schools and expand 15 others to ease Bristol's primary school places crisis have been unveiled.
Bristol City Council faces spending £250 million over the coming years to ensure there are enough places available to cater for the city's rapidly growing population of young children.
The authority plans to build a new school on the site of the former City of Bristol College centre in Marksbury Road by September 2014 and the former Hayleigh House old people's home in Southville by September 2015.
There are plans to construct a new school in the Harbourside area by 2014 to serve the growing number of families in the city centre but an exact location has not been revealed.
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In St George, a new school could spring up in an old council building in partnership with the Diocese of Bristol in time for the 2014/15 academic year.
The school building programme forms part of the council's School Organisation Strategy 2012-2016, which will be discussed by the authority's cabinet later this month.
The strategy proposes expansions at the following schools: Avon Primary in Shirehampton, Begbrook Primary in Stapleton, Bishop Road Primary in Bishopston, Glenfrome Primary in Eastville, St Bonaventure's School in Bishopston, West Town Lane School in Brislington, former Cutler's Brook Primary in St Werburgh's, Ashton Gate Primary, Barton Hill Primary, Bridge Farm Primary in Whitchurch, Chester Park Infant and Junior in Fishponds, Colston's Primary in Cotham, Compass Point School in Bedminster, Dolphin School in Cheltenham Road and St Ursula's E-ACT Primary Academy in Westbury-on-Trym.
Six of the building projects have funding in place, while the remainder are awaiting confirmed funding.
A major rise in reception pupil numbers is not expected at the start of the 2013/14 academic year but a bulge in admissions is expected from September 2014. If nothing was done to create more spaces, 530 reception pupils would be left without a school to attend in September 2014.
More secondary school places are expected to be needed in the north of the city from 2017 and elsewhere in Bristol from 2019.
The council also plans to provide more places for the rising number of children with special educational needs and early education places for two-year-olds.
Clare Campion-Smith, the city councillor with responsibility for education, said: "All of the simple school expansion options have been exhausted and we are now in the position of looking at brand new sites in preparation for children coming through in 2014/15. We are making use of a mix of existing council property and new commercial opportunities as they become available.
"It remains that it's towards the east of the city and towards the centre where we need to find places but unfortunately it's difficult to find sites."
Last year the council created 300 extra spaces and 95 per cent of children were given a place at one of their preferred schools. Some 83 per cent were awarded a place at their first choice school, a proportion which the council says compares well with that of other local authorities.